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On This Day – January 6

Today we look at a romantic composer who wrote over 200 works. His most famous are his three violin concerti. Max Bruch, born on this day in 1938.Bruch was born Cologne, Rhine Province, and here he received training from Ferdinand Hiller, the dedicatee of Schumann’s piano concerto. After Ignaz Moscheles recognised his aptitude, Bruch embarked on a long career as a teacher, conductor and composer. He held posts in Mannheim, Koblenz, Sondershausen, Berlin and Bonn. In 1880 he began three seasons as conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1890 he took up a position teaching composition at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik.

His most famous work is his first violin concerto in g minor. Here he borrowed many techniques from Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in e minor, including the linked movments, and departure from the customary orchestral exposition. These similarities has seen this work gain a reputation in the violin world as one that preceeds the Mendelssohn, to be learned in preparation for it. However, it is an excellent concerto on its own merit. Here we have Gil Shaham performing this concerto.

Bruch wrote two other violin concerti, both of which he considered just as good as the first, as well as the Scottish Fantasy, which is often considered in the concerto category.

Kol Nidrei is rivalling the first violin concerto in terms of popularity. An “adagio on Hebrew Melodies for violoncello and orchestra”, this piece is based off Jewish melodies, principally the melody of Kol Nidre which is recited during the evening service on Yom Kippur.

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