The German born, Swiss, and later American bassbaritone, Heinz Julius Rehfuss was born in Frankfurt am Main, studying with his father Carl Rehfuss (1885-1946) and his mother, the contralto Florentine Rehfuss-Peichert. The family moved to Neuchâtel, and he became a naturalised Swiss citizen. Rehfuss made his professional operatic debut at the Städtbundtheater, Biel-Solothurn in 1938. Then he sang with the Lucerne Stadttheater (1938-1939) and the Zürich Opera (1940-1952) where he sang over eighty rôles.
He subsequently was active mainly in Europe (La Scala, Paris Opéra, Vienna State Opera, Amsterdam and Munich) and in America (Chicago), later becoming a naturalised American citizen. Rehfuss taught singing at the Montreal Conservatory in 1961 and in 1965 joined the Faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He also toured Asia, giving vocal recitals in India and Indonesia. Heinz Rehfuss was successful mainly in dramatic rôles, such as Don Giovanni and Boris Godunov, but he was also respected as a Bach interpreter with his wide-ranging and highly flexible baritone voice. He died in June 1988 in Buffalo.