Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Bruch, Max (Christian Friedrich)

berlin violin conductor choral

Bruch, Max (Christian Friedrich), distinguished German composer, conductor, and pedagogue; b. Cologne, Jan. 6, 1838; d. Friedenau, near Berlin, Oct. 2, 1920. His mother was a soprano and singing teacher, and it was from her that he first studied piano. He was only 9 when he wrote his first composition. He soon began taking theory lessons with Heinrich Breidenstein in Bonn. After winning the Mozart Foundation prize of Frankfurt am Main in 1852, he went there to study composition with Hiller and piano with Reinecke and Ferdinand Breunung (1853–57). He then composed his first opera, Scherz, List und Radie, after Goethe, which was premiered in Colgne on Jan. 14, 1858. After studying philosophy, art, and architecture at the Univ. of Bonn (1859), he devoted himself fully to a musical career. He then composed the opera Die Loreley (Mannheim, June 14, 1863). While staying in Mannheim, he received instruction in conducting and orchestration from Franz Lachner. With his choral work Frithjof, which he conducted at its premiere in Aachen on Nov. 20, 1864, Bruch established himself as a composer of effective choral works. Frithjof was subsequently given in other German cities, as well as in Vienna with much success. From 1865 to 1867 Bruch was director of the Royal Inst. for Music and of the subscription concerts in Koblenz. While in Koblenz, Bruch wrote his most celebrated score, his First Violin Concerto (Koblenz, April 24, 1866). It subsequently was played by all the leading violin virtuosos of the day and became a standard repertory piece. From 1867 to 1870 he served as first court conductor in Sondershausen. He then went to Berlin, where his opera Hermione was premiered on March 21, 1872. While it proved a failure, Bruch found success with his secular oratorio Odysseus (Barmen, Feb. 8, 1873). In 1878 he became conductor of the Stern’schen Gesangverein in Berlin. In 1880 he was named musical director of the Liverpool Phil. Soc, which position he held until 1883. During this period, Bruch brought out 2 of his finest works, the so-called Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orch. and Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orch. The latter, based on a traditional Jewish melody, led to the erroneous assumption that Bruch was Jewish. In fact, he was descended from a long-standing Protestant family.

In 1883 Bruch toured the U.S. as a conductor of various choral organizations. From 1883 to 1890 he was conductor of the Breslau Concert Soc. He then completed work on his Third Violin Concerto, which was a great success at its premiere in Dusseldorf on May 31, 1891. In 1892 Bruch became a prof, and director of the master class in composition at the Berlin Royal Academy of Arts, remaining there until his retirement in 1911. In 1893 he received an honorary D.Mus. degree from the Univ. of Cambridge and in 1918 honorary doctorates in philosophy and theology from the Univ. of Berlin. In 1881 he married the young contralto Clara Tuczek (b. Berlin, Feb. 15, 1864; d. there, Aug. 27, 1919), who occasionally sang at his concerts. Bruch’s music, although imitative in its essence, retains a great eclectic charm. He was a thorough master of harmony, counterpoint, and instrumentation. His choral output was highly regarded in his homeland, particularly his secular works. While most of his music is now forgotten, his violin concertos, the Scottish Fantasy, and Kol Nidrei remain as notable examples of his gifts and continue to find their way occasionally into the concert hall.

Bruckheimer, Jerry - Film producer and television producer, Career, Sidelights [next] [back] Bruce, Sir David

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or