Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer of the early Romantic period. He was also a skilled organist, pianist, and conductor. He composed symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and organ music. His collection of lyrical piano songs Songs Without Words is among his best-known works. He was the founder of the public university The Leipzig Conservatory. He died aged just 38.
Richard Georg Strauss was a German conductor, composer, violinist, and pianist. Renowned for his pioneering subtleties of orchestration, Strauss is generally regarded as a modernist, although he was initially considered a conservative, backwards-looking composer. Over the years, his music has influenced other prominent composers like Béla Viktor János Bartók, Karol Maciej Szymanowski, Edward Elgar, and Benjamin Britten.
Carl Maria von Weber was a German composer, virtuoso pianist, guitarist, and conductor. A significant musical figure in the Romantic era, he played a key role in the development of the German Romantische Oper (German Romantic opera). He also made significant contributions to vocal and choral music. He was a music critic as well and wrote music journalism.
Max Bruch composed his first song at 9 for his mother’s birthday and then earned a scholarship after creating a symphony at the tender age of 14. He worked extensively with the choral societies of Germany and is remembered for his iconic Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor.
Max Reger was a German conductor, composer, organist, pianist, and academic teacher. Reger, who mainly composed Lieder, worked as a musical director at the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and at the Leipzig University Church. His works inspired Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg. His life and career served as an inspiration to a couple of documentary films.
German composer and conductor Hans von Bülow was one of the greatest musical figures of the Romantic era. Known for his work with composers such as Richard Wagner, he eventually lost his wife, Cosima, to him. In his final years, his failing health made him retire to Cairo, where he eventually died.
German composer and pianist Otto Goldschmidt was one of the first students at the Leipzig Conservatory. The son of a Jewish salesperson, he grew up to be one of the greatest musicians of the 19th century. He later settled in England and established the London Bach Choir.
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor, composer, and pianist. Born in Berlin to a Jewish family, he began performing in concerts as a young boy. He escaped from Germany during the Third Reich, first going to France and then to USA. He continued his musical career and held high-profile positions with the New York Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach had lost his mother at birth and his musicologist father to the Nazis. Thus, orphaned as a child, Eschenbach took up music as a cure for his trauma. He later grew up to be the director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Karl Richter was a German conductor, pianist, choirmaster, organist, and harpsichordist. Interested in music from a young age, he received his training under prominent musicians like Günther Ramin and Karl Straube. He played and conducted a wide range of soul-searching and intense music. He also founded the Münchener Bach-Chor and the Münchener Bach-Orchester in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Carl Reinecke was a German conductor, composer, and pianist who was active in the mid-Romantic Era. The son of a music teacher, he received his music education from his father. He began to compose as a child and became a popular musician as a teenager. He led the Gewandhaus Orchestra for almost three decades and published hundreds of musical works.
Ferdinand Ries was a German composer best remembered for his association with Ludwig van Beethoven. He studied under Beethoven before going on to become his secretary. Ries is credited with helping Beethoven with the premieres of the latter's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies which were used in the Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808.
Karl Haas was a German-American radio host best remembered for hosting classical music programs like Adventures in Good Music. He was also an accomplished musicologist as well as a respected conductor and pianist. During his career, Haas was honored with prestigious awards, including two George Foster Peabody Awards. In 1997, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Wolfgang Sawallisch was a German pianist and conductor best remembered as an acclaimed interpreter of Richard Georg Strauss. As a pianist, he worked with a number of renowned singers like Dame Margaret Price, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In 1993, Wolfgang Sawallisch was honored with the prestigious Suntory Music Award.
Ferdinand Hiller was a German pianist, composer, conductor, music director, and writer. He is credited with composing six operas and a violin concerto among other works. He also worked as a lecturer and writer and contributed immensely to several newspapers. Some of his published works are Musikalisches und Persönliches and Goethes musikalisches Leben.
German violinist Adolf Busch founded groups such as the Vienna Konzertverein Quartet and the Busch Quartet. Though not Jewish, he fled to Switzerland, then England, and eventually to the US, after Hitler’s rise, as he strongly opposed Nazism. He later established a chamber orchestra and co-founded the Lucerne and Marlboro music festivals
Born in the German Empire, Kurt Sanderling became one of the leading conductors during the Cold War era. He overcame his removal from the Deutsche Oper Berlin by the Nazis and moved to the USSR. Over the years, he performed in Britain and the US.
William Steinberg was a German-American conductor best remembered for directing the Pittsburgh Symphony between 1952 and 1976. He is also remembered for his association with the Cologne Opera where he became the principal conductor in 1924. William Steinberg is also credited with co-founding the Palestine Symphony, which was later renamed the Israel Philharmonic.
Sir Charles Hallé was an Anglo-German conductor and pianist. He is best remembered as the founder of the famous symphony orchestra, The Hallé. Charles Hallé played an important role in the development of musical education in England. In 1890, he was knighted for his service to music.
George Henschel started his career as a pianist but later found success as a baritone. Born in Germany, he later acquired a British citizenship and performed as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first conductor. He was also knighted for his achievements. He was married to soprano Lilian June Bailey.