Max Bruch (Jan. 6, 1838 – Oct. 2, 1920) Call him the original incurable Romantic: “He never managed to reconcile himself with the direction taken by Wagner and Liszt, let alone the composers who built on their achievements. To the end of his life, he and his music remained attached to the world of Mendelssohn and Schumann.” – The Irish Times.
Our Video of the Week today offers a birthday salute to the German composer Max Bruch, born in Cologne on Jan. 6, 1838. Bruch is best known for his three violin concertos (Check out our recent Alumni Monday post featuring his Scottish Fantasy), but later in his composing life he developed an affinity for the more plangent sound of the viola, turning out several works that featured the violin’s bigger brother.
What didn’t change however, was Bruch’s ultra-romantic composing style. In 1911, around the time Schoenberg was experimenting with twelve-tone music, Debussy was devising gauzy landscapes, and Stravinsky was dreaming up the Rite of Spring, Bruch crafted his Romance for viola and orchestra, and affectionate “postcard from the past” that could easily have come from the pen of Mendelssohn, Brahms, or Schumann.
Infusing that sense of romance and longing in this performance is the legendary violist Nobuko Imai, a longtime Heifetz Institute faculty member. In a 2017 Celebrity Series concert, Nobuko unveiled a custom arrangement by Emil Ludmány of Bruch’s Romance for solo viola and string quartet . You’ll hear the piece introduced by Heifetz student Benjamin Francisco, cello, who plays in the string quartet alongside Heifetz faculty member Francesca DePasquale, violin, and fellow students Kae Tanimura (violin) and Hsuan-Min Chang (viola). Happy Birthday, Bruch!