Rudolf Kempe

Biography

Born: June 14, 1910; Niederpoyritz, Saxony   Died: May 12, 1976; Zurich, Switzerland  
One of the great unsung conductors of the middle twentieth century, Rudolf Kempe enjoyed a strong reputation in England but never quite achieved the international acclaim that he might have had with more aggressive management, promotion, and recording. Not well enough known to be a celebrity but too widely respected to count as a cult figure, Kempe is perhaps best remembered as a connoisseur's conductor, one valued for his strong creative Read more temperament rather than for any personal mystique.

He studied oboe as a child, performed with the Dortmund Opera, and, in 1929, barely out of his teens, he became first oboist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His conducting debut came in 1936, at the Leipzig Opera; this performance of Lortzing's Der Wildschütz was so successful that the Leipzig Opera hired him as a répétiteur. Kempe served in the German army during World War II, but much of his duty was out of the line of fire; in 1942 he was assigned to a music post at the Chemnitz Opera. After the war, untainted by Nazi activities, he returned to Chemnitz as director of the opera (1945-1948), and then moved on to the Weimar National Theater (1948-1949). From 1949 to 1953 he served as general music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, East Germany's finest orchestra. He then moved to the identical position at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, 1952-1954, succeeding the young and upwardly mobile Georg Solti. During this period he was also making guest appearances outside of Germany, mainly in opera: in Vienna (1951), at London's Covent Garden (1953), and at New York's Metropolitan Opera (1954), to mention only the highlights. Although he conducted Wagner extensively, especially at Covent Garden, Kempe did not make his Bayreuth debut until 1960. As an opera conductor he was greatly concerned with balance and texture, and singers particularly appreciated his efforts on their behalf.

Kempe made a great impression in England, and in 1960 Sir Thomas Beecham named him associate conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic. Kempe became the orchestra's principal conductor upon Beecham's death the following year, and, after the orchestra was reorganized, served as its artistic director from 1963 to 1975. He was also the chief conductor of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra from 1965 to 1972, and of the Munich Philharmonic from 1967 until his death in 1976. During the last year of his life he also entered into a close association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Interpretively, Kempe was something of a German Beecham. He was at his best -- lively, incisive, warm, expressive, but never even remotely self-indulgent -- in the Austro-Germanic and Czech repertory. Opera lovers prize his versions of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger, and Ariadne auf Naxos. His greatest recorded legacy, accomplished during the last four or five years of his life, was the multi-volume EMI set of the orchestral works and concertos of Richard Strauss, performed with the highly idiomatic Dresden Staatskapelle. These recordings were only intermittently available outside of Europe in the LP days, but in the 1990s EMI issued them on nine compact discs. Read less
Chopin: Piano Concerto No 2, Etc; Respighi / Cherkassky, Kempe
Release Date: 07/19/2005   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 4015   Number of Discs: 1
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Weber: Der Freischutz / Faulhaber, Trotschel, Kempe
Release Date: 06/26/2012   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 10032   Number of Discs: 3
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Browse 1-25 of 163 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Brahms: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94860 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 58
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Cécile Ousset,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Emmy Verhey  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaap Van Zweden,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos,  Günther Herbig,  Heinz Bongartz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,  Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1227072 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Ludovico Einaudi,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Nicola Benedetti,  Craig Ogden,  Ji Liu,  Stacey Watton  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Andrew Litton,  Neeme Järvi,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
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  • 3.
    Haydn: Symphony No. 55; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4; Mozart: Symphony No. 39
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1492 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Nikita Magaloff
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 4.
    Strauss: Complete Orchestral Works / Rudolf Kempe
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 3178025 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Max Rostal,  Ulf Hoelscher,  Peter Damm  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 5.
    Strauss: The Great Operas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 3179923 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Gerd Nienstedt,  José Van Dam,  Agnes Baltsa,  Horst Nitsche  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Marek Janowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus  ... 
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  • 6.
    Mahler: Symphony No 4; Wagner: Parsifal Prelude; Mendelssohn: Ruy Blas Overture / Kempe
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5117 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Richard Wagner,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 7.
    Great Pianists - Legendary Recordings from Arrau, Cherkassky, Cziffra, Gilels, Katchen
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5114 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Emil Gilels,  Claudio Arrau,  Julius Katchen,  György Cziffra  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Christoph von Dohnányi,  Otto Klemperer,  Rudolf Kempe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
    Label: United Classics   Catalog: 2013007 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 9.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704647 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Strauss,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Performer:  Hermann Uhde,  Jerome Hines,  Lisa Della Casa,  Christel Goltz  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry,  Dimitri Mitropoulos,  H. Eckner,  Fausto Cleva  ... 
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  • 10.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704646 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Heinrich Marschner,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Marianne Schech,  Maud Cunitz,  Bernd Aldenhoff,  Hans Hopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Bertil Wetzelsberger,  Alfons Rischner,  Arthur Rother,  Eugen Jochum  ... 
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  • 11.
    Rudolf Kempe Conducts Bartok & Strauss - Historical Recordings 1961
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94220 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Richard Strauss
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 353022 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 13.
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 322842 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 14.
    Strauss Family, Lehar: Waltzes; Polkas; Overtures
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 322852 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  Johann Strauss Sr.,  Franz Lehár
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 15.
    Dvorak: The Symphonies / Davis, Philharmonia
    Label: Sony (Nax615)   Catalog: 5409112 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis,  Rudolf Kempe,  David Zinman,  Marcel Moyse
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Wagner - The Great Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 973359 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Siv Wennberg,  René Kollo,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Otto Klemperer,  Bernard Haitink,  Rudolf Kempe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Dresden State Opera Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 17.
    Essential Encores
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 05149 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolň Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian,  Michael Rabin,  Tasmin Little  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Nash Ensemble
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  • 18.
    Semperoper Edition, Vol. 3: Wagner Again?
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 11044 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Kurt Böhme,  Dora Zschille,  Margarete Bäumer,  Brünnhild Friedland  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe,  Joseph Keilberth,  Rolf Kleinert,  Gerhard Pflüger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 / Rudolf Kempe, Münchner Philharmoniker
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 636555 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001707802 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Bruch
    Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 22.
    The Very Best Of Paul Tortelier
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 21730 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Maria de La Pau,  Max Rostal,  Shuku Iwasaki  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Tortelier,  Jörg Faerber,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    Weber: Der Freischutz / Faulhaber, Trotschel, Kempe
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 10032 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Bernd Aldenhoff,  Kurt Böhme,  Irma Beilke,  Karl Paul  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 24.
    Essential Overtures
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27866 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  George Frideric Handel,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Mikhail Glinka  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Gianluigi Gelmetti,  Sir David Willcocks,  Riccardo Muti  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 25.
    50 Best Overtures & Preludes
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27368 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Gianluigi Gelmetti,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
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