Elisabeth von Magnus was born in Vienna. After studying the recorder at the Academy of Music in Vienna she founded the Ensemble Récréation and was a recorder soloist in the Concentus Musicus Wien. She began a course in drama at the Mozarteum Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Salzburg and also studied singing with Hertha Töpper at the Munich Academy of Music where she attended the opera school. Elisabeth von Magnus also attended Paul Schilhawskys classes in lied interpretation in Salzburg and worked freelance for ORF Austrian Radio as an announcer and as presenter of her own series. Later in her long career, her husband the conductor and former singer Simon Schouten took care of her voice. Together they founded ENSEMBLE LYRIQUE with which they were able to celebrate great success first in the great halls of Holland and later on several tours through Europe.
Since making her opera debut as Polly in Benjamin Brittens version of The Beggars Opera at the Marstalltheater in Munich Elisabeth von Magnus has performed in most European countries as well as in the USA and in Japan. She has made guest appearances in major European opera houses and concert halls, e.g. the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Barbican Centre in London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. She has performed at the Vienna Festival, the Handel Festival in Göttingen, at the Carinthian Summer, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, in the Herkulessaal in Munich, at the Styriarte in Graz, the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, music festivals in Potsdam, Leipzig and Dresden, at the Lucerne Festival, the Ludwigsburg Festival, the Salzburg Festival where she sang in performances of Mozarts Mass in C minor, and of Monteverdis Vespro della Beate Vergine and the opera LIncoronazione de Poppea.
After making her American debut in a performance of Bachs St. Matthew Passion with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Elisabeth von Magnus frequently toured the USA with various programmes. Together with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir Elisabeth von Magnus performed the great oratorios by Bach in major music centres of Europe, Japan and the USA. She worked with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Frieder Bernius, Frans Brüggen, Dennis Russell Davies, Adam Fischer, Mark Forster, Reihard Goebel, Michael Hofstetter, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Thomas Hengelbrock, Philippe Herreweghe, Sir Neville Marriner, Simon Schouten, Martin Sieghart, Marc Soustrot, Markus Stenz, Hans Vonk, Bruno Weil, Jaap von Zweden and others. Together with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir Elisabeth von Magnus performed the great oratorios by Bach in major music centres of Europe, Japan and the USA.
On the basis of her training as an actress she also performed in cross-over programmes and gave recitations.
Elisabeth von Magnus worked with several chamber music ensembles. She performed regularly as a duo with pianist Jacob Bogaart and together with him has elaborated a large, wide-ranging repertoire of programmes on a variety of themes (baroque, classic, romantic to Alban Berg and Kurt Weill etc.). Major solo programmes including music by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill formed an important focus of her work. Her Show TONIGHT KURT WEILL, is documented on CD by Preiser Records. Together with her accompanist Jacob Bogaart, Elisabeth von Magnus had for several years been preoccupied with the artistic riches of Dutch composers. The result of this work is as well documented on CD.
Her recording of the Seven Romances by Dimitri Shostakovich based on poems by Alexander Blok (in the original language) with the Storioni Trio Amsterdam and her CD of Haydns English songs and his cantata Arianna were both highly acclaimed by the press and public.
The artists extensive recordings, which have been issued by Teldec, Erato, Challenge Records and Preiser Records, include The Gypsy Baron by Johann Strauss, Joseph Haydns Stabat Mater and almost all sacred works, all oratorios and many cantatas by J. S. Bach as well as almost all Mozarts well-known choral and orchestral works. Television recordings further document her broad musical spectrum.
In addition to her performances and work as a singer, Elisabeth von Magnus was Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Art at the Graz University of Art for eight years.