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Born in Helsinki, he first studied medicine, while singing and playing the guitar in a jazz band. His vocal talent led him to leave his medical studies for serious voice studies at the Vienna Music Academy where he was a pupil of Margot Skoda, Sergio Nazor, and Rudolf Bautz. He made his operatic debut in Berlin, as Escamillo, in 1959, and quickly gained a reputation in opera and concert throughout Germany and Scandinavia.
He joined the Hamburg State Opera, where he sang mostly Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner roles, but also such rarities as Rossini's La pietra del paragone and Handel's Jephtha. He began making guest appearances in Munich, Amsterdam, and Brussels, and made his debut in Bayreuth, as the Herald in Lohengrin, in 1962.
His English debut took place in 1963, at the Glyndebourne Festival as the Count in Capriccio. His American debut in 1963 with Tanglewood's "War Requiem". His 1967 debut, at the Metropolitan Opera as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, received an ovation. From 1968 on, he appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival, notably as Don Giovanni and Guglielmo.
His wide repertory included lead baritone roles in opera such as L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, Rigoletto, La traviata, Fidelio, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, La bohème, Andrea Chénier, Faust, and Carmen.
Krause was also very active as a recitalist of German Lieder, as well as songs by Mussorgsky, Sibelius, and Mahler. He has released many recordings, including an acclaimed collection of the complete songs of Sibelius.
He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity. He died in December 2013, aged 79.