German-born Herman Scherchen (21 June 1891 – 12 June 1966) was one of the leading conductors of the twentieth century, celebrated for his performances of the contemporary music of his time as well as his numerous recordings of the mainstays of the classical repertoire.
As a musician, he was mainly self-taught. Scherchen initially became a violist in the Blüthner Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic when he was 16.
He conducted the premiere and tour of Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, after which he became the conductor of the Riga Symphony Orchestra. Soon after, he was interned by the Russians during World War I. After his release, Scherchen returned to Germany to found the Neue Musikgesellschaft (New Music Society) and his Scherchen Quartet. Scherchen also became active in writing and established a militant magazine in 1919.
Scherchen succeeded the renowned Wilhelm Furtwängler as director of the Frankfurt Museum Concerts, after which he began a long association with the Winterthur Musikkollegium in Switzerland. Furthermore, Scherchen became the Generalmusikdirektor in Königsberg, Russian Federation. He often performed at contemporary music festivals, most notably with the International Society for Contemporary Music.