Linz-born bass Oskar Czerwenka (1924–2000) initially wanted to become a painter, but then undertook singing lessons with Otto Iro in Vienna. In 1947 he made his debut as the Hermit in Weber’s Der Freischütz at the Stadttheater in Graz. Four years later he became a member of the Vienna State Opera, where he remained for 35 years until retiring in 1986. Czerwenka also appeared regularly at the Vienna Volksoper.
He was particularly admired in buffo bass roles such as Ochs (Die Rosenkavalier), Kečal (The Bartered Bride), Osmin (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) or van Bett (Czar und Zimmermann), but his repertory comprised more than 75 opera roles. From 1953 onwards he sang at the Salzburg Festival where he appeared as the Notary in Der Rosenkavalier, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, with the world premières of Einem’s Kafka opera Der Prozess and Egk’s Irische Legende. Czerwenka also appeared throughout Germany and in Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, Zurich, Brussels and the festivals of Glyndebourne and Edinburgh. His American début was as Rocco in Fidelio at the Metropolitan in 1960. His book Lebenszeiten - Ungebetene Briefe was published in Vienna in 1987.