Max Bruch was a German composer and conductor of the Romantic era, best known for the melodic qualities of his works. He composed symphonies, chamber music, operas and choral works, however his Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 is his crowning masterpiece.
Max Bruch was born in Cologne on 6 January 1838. His father August Carl Friedrich Bruch was a police official and his mother Wilhelmine, a singer. Max studied music as a child and his earliest musical education was given to him by his mother. He began composing at the age of nine and two years later he was already beginning to show significant signs of his future composing style. Bruch was only fourteen when he was awarded the Frankfurt Mozart-Stiftung Prize. This award gave him the opportunity to study with composers including Hiller and Reinecke, which greatly aided the young composer's development.
Bruch's first major work was his opera Scherz, List und Rache, Op. 1, based on Goethe's Scherz. It received reasonable success during the time of its performance in Cologne in 1858. Following this performance, he was encouraged by his teachers to travel to other German cities and he did so, spending some time in Leipzig. He spent the majority of his time however, in Mannheim between the years 1862 and 1864. His next opera, Die Loreley was very successful. The opera was based on the Rhine legend and its libretto was written by Emanuel Geibel. The opera enjoyed many successful productions around Europe until the early 1900s; however, it was forgotten for many decades until its next performance Oberhausen in 1984 and in London in 1986. Bruch completed one other opera during his career titled Hermione; however it did not enjoy the same success nor attract the same popularity as Die Loreley.