Rudorff, Ernst


Rudorff, Ernst

Romance for violoncello and orchestra op. 7

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Ernst Rudorff – Romance for violoncello and orchestra op. 7 (1866)

(b. Berlin, 18 January 1840 – d. Berlin, 31 December 1916)

Ernst Rudorff was one of the most influential musicians in Berlin during the last third of the 19th century. Son of the jurist Adolf Rudorff and Elisabeth “Betty” Pistor, he grew up in a family that maintained extraordinarily varied connections to well-known people in cultural and scientific life. His grandfather Carl Pistor, for example, was highly regarded throughout Europe as a designer of optical devices, while the famous poet Ludwig Tieck, whose works left a lasting impression on Rudorff, was a great uncle by marriage. The parents provided a comprehensive musical education for their son. Ernst Rudorff received his first piano lessons from his mother, a childhood friend of the Mendelssohn Bartholdy siblings, who as a member of the Berlin Singakademie had enjoyed Carl Friedrich Zelter’s lessons, and from his godmother Marie Lichtenstein, who in turn was godchild of Carl Maria von Weber. In addition, Louis Ries provided basic training in violin playing. Woldemar Bargiel was his piano teacher from 1850 to 1857. In 1858, Bargiel’s half-sister Clara Schumann, who was to appreciate the pianist Rudorff throughout her life, also gave him five double lessons on the piano. From 1859 to 1861 Rudorff studied at the Leipzig Conservatory with Ignaz Moscheles, Moritz Hauptmann, Julius Rietz, Ferdinand David, Felix Dreyschock, Carl Reinecke and Louis Plaidy, and continued to take private lessons in composition with Hauptmann and piano with Reinecke until 1862. In 1864 he became assistant conductor under Julius Stockhausen in Hamburg and made his conducting debut with the third part of Robert Schumann’s Szenen aus Goethes Faust. In 1865 he moved to Cologne, where he taught piano and choral conducting at the local conservatory and founded a Bach Society in 1868. In 1869, his friend Joseph Joachim, to whom Rudorff was “very appealing as a person and in his musical disposition”, appointed him as piano professor at the newly founded Königliche Musikschule in Berlin. In 1882 he was appointed head of the department for piano and organ instruction. In the hierarchy of this most important Prussian conservatory, Rudorff, who had been a member of the Senate of the Königliche Akademie der Künste since 1884, was considered the “secondmost important man” (Dietmar Schenk) after Joachim. He played a significant role in the aesthetic vision of instrumental training towards an intellectually interpretive, non-brilliant ideal of interpretation, as well as in the development of the institution into a refuge for traditionalism. As Max Bruch’s successor, Rudorff directed the Stern’sche Gesangverein for ten years from 1880. …


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