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Max Bruch

Max Bruch

Max Bruch


Max Christian Friedrich Bruch (1838–1920) was a German composer and conductor who wrote over 200 works, including three symphonies that are rarely performed, and three violin concertos, one of which is a staple of the violin repertoire. Born on the 6th January 1838 in Köln, he received his early musical training in Köln under the composer and pianist Ferdinand Hiller, to whom Robert Schumann dedicated his piano concerto. Ignaz Moscheles recognised his aptitude. Read more on Last.fm
Max Christian Friedrich Bruch (1838–1920) was a German composer and conductor who wrote over 200 works, including three symphonies that are rarely performed, and three violin concertos, one of which is a staple of the violin repertoire. Born on the 6th January 1838 in Köln, he received his early musical training in Köln under the composer and pianist Ferdinand Hiller, to whom Robert Schumann dedicated his piano concerto. Ignaz Moscheles recognised his aptitude. He had a long career as a teacher, conductor and composer, moving among musical posts in Germany: Mannheim (1862-1864), Koblenz (1865-1867), Sondershausen, (1867-1870) Berlin (1870-1872), and Bonn, where he spent the years from 1873 to 1878 working privately. At the height of his reputation he spent three seasons as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (1880-1883).

He taught composition at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (the Berlin Conservatoire) from 1890 until his retirement in 1910. He died on the 20th October 1920 in Friedenau. Bruch's conservatively structured works in the German romantic musical tradition, placed him in the camp of Romantic classicism exemplified by Johannes Brahms, rather than the opposing "New Music" of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. In his time, he was known primarily as a choral composer. His concerto no 1 in G minor, op. 26 (1868) for violin is one of the most popular Romantic violin concertos in the concert repertoire.

It uses several techniques from Felix Mendelssohn's violin concerto. These include the linking of movements, and a departure from the customary orchestral exposition and rigid form of earlier concertos. Bruch sold the rights to the G minor concerto to the publisher August Cranz for a one-time payment, and he never received another penny from its innumerable performances. He, of course, valued the fame that the concerto brought to him and his music, but he also came to realise that the work’s exceptional popularity overshadowed his other pieces for violin and orchestra.

"Nothing compares to the laziness, stupidity and dullness of many German violinists", he complained to the publisher Fritz Simrock in a letter from 1887; "Every fortnight another one comes to me wanting to play the First Concerto; I have now become rude, and tell them: 'I cannot listen to this Concerto any more — did I perhaps write just this one? Go away, and play the other [two] Concertos, which are just as good, if not better.'" Other pieces which are also well-known and widely played include the Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra which includes an arrangement of the tune "Hey Tuttie Tatie", best known for its use in the song "Scots Wha Hae" by Robert Burns. Bruch also wrote a popular work for cello and orchestra, his op. 47, "Adagio on Hebrew Melodies for Violoncello and Orchestra", better known as his "Kol Nidre". This piece was based on Hebrew melodies, principally the melody of the Kol Nidre prayer, which gives the piece its name.

The success of this work has made many assume that Bruch himself had Jewish ancestry, but there is no evidence for this. Bruch wrote several other large-scale orchestral works, which have until quite recently been neglected in favour of the more popular violin concerto. These include two other concertos: one for the combination of viola and clarinet (a combination he used again in a chamber work with piano), and one for two pianos. He also wrote three symphonies, which are only now starting to gain recognition from out of the shadow of Brahms and Schumann. The violinists Joseph Joachim and Willy Hess advised Bruch on composing for strings, and Hess performed the premieres of a number of works by him, including the Concert Piece for violin and orchestra, op. 84, which had been composed for Hess. Read more on Last.fm.

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