Max Bruch

Portrait of Max Bruch

Max Bruch was a German Romantic composer, violinist, teacher, and conducter. He was born on 6th January 1838 in Cologne, Germany and died on 2nd October 1920 in Berlin, Germany aged 81.

Major Works

Violin Concerto No 1 (1866) 
“Schön Ellen” (1867)
“Scottish Fantasy” (1880)
“Kol Nidrei (1881)


Max Karl August Bruch was born on 6th January 1838 in Cologne, Germany. His father was August Carl Friedrich, a lawyer who became vice president of police in Cologne. His mother was Wilhelmine, nee Almenräder, a singer. He had one sister called Mathilde. He received early training from the composer Ferdinand Hiller and Bruch was taught French and English, amongst other things, by his father.

1847: He writes his first composition, a song for his mother’s birthday.

1849: He lives on a farm in Bergisch Gladbach which is owned by a man called Neissen who lives with his unmarried sister. Bruch has first music theory lesson is in Bonn from Professor Heinrich Carl Breidenstein who was a friend of his father’s. 

1852: He writes a symphony at aged 14 and wins a scholarship which allows him to study in Cologne.

1858: His first opera, “Scherz, List und Rache” (Jest, Deceit, and Revenge) based on words by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is first performed.

1859: He studies philosophy and art in Bonn.

1862: Bruch takes up a career as a teacher and conductor in Mannheim, Germany.

1865: He becomes the main conductor for orchestral and choral societies in Koblenz, Germany. 

1866: One of his most famous works, the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor is written.

1867: He conducts the orchestra in Sondershausen, Germany. Meanwhile he is still composing and completes a large-scale work for choir and orchestra “Schön Ellen” (Beautiful Ellen

1870: He works in Berlin. 

1872: He writes the oratorio “Odysseus”.

1873: He works privately on his own compositions in Bonn.

1878: He becomes a conductor in Berlin.

1880: He composes the “Scottish Fantasy” for violin and orchestra. He begins conducting the Liverpool Philharmonic Society for the next three seasons.

1881: He composes “Kol Nidrei” for cello and orchestra. Bruch marries the singer Clara Tuczek whom he had met on tour in Berlin in January. After the wedding the couple live in Sefton Park in Liverpool.

1882: Their daughter, Margaretha, is born in Liverpool.

1883: He conducts in Breslau until 1890. (now Wrocław in Poland).

1884: Their first son, Max Felix is born on 31st May in Breslau.

1890: He is appointed a professor at the Berlin Academy of Arts and teaches composition at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik. 

1910: He retires from the Berlin Hochschule.

1919: Death of his wife Clara on 26th August.

Max Bruch died in his home on 2nd October 1920 in Freidenau, Berlin Germany. He was buried next to his wife in the old St Matthaus churchyard at Schoneberg, Berlin.

Further Information

List of compositions by Bruch.