"His name will endure, if only thanks to one superb violin concerto." Thus The New Grove on Max Bruch, a prolific composer who was much admired in his lifetime. His talent for melody and orchestration revealed itself at an early age, and he was encouraged to travel to Leipzig to imbibe the influence of Mendelssohn. The opera Die Loreley and the cantata Frijthof established his reputation in Germany, but it was to be his choral music - both sacred and secular - that kept his name before the public.
The First Violin Concerto was the first of a string of works for the instrument (the Scottish Fantasy is still performed occasionally), and he composed three symphonies, the Kol nidrei for cello and orchestra, and a final, unsuccessful opera, Hermione. He was a respected teacher, and numbered Respighi and Vaughan Williams among his students in Berlin. He held posts in Koblenz, Sondershausen, Breslau and Liverpool, but he reacted against the innovations of Liszt and Wagner, and found himself isolated from contemporary opinion later in life.
Profile by © Owen Mitchell