Rudolf Schwarz


Born: April 29, 1905 Died: January 30, 1994
Rudolph Schwarz became a fairly familiar conductor in England from the 1950s on, and developed a small but dedicated following abroad from numerous recordings on EMI and Everest. Schwarz conducted both in the concert hall and the opera house, and while he could be eccentric in some of his interpretations (Mahler, particularly), he was generally held in high regard by both critics and public. As a Vienna-born Jew, Schwarz suffered Nazi persecution during the wartime era and after the war relocated to England, where he spent the remainder of his career. There he became known for conducting many contemporary works by British composers (Bliss, Tippett, Rubbra, Hamilton, and others) and for his controversial Mahler. But Schwarz was adept at the standards as well and was highly respected by the musicians in the orchestras he led. In the latter-twentieth century Schwarz enjoyed a swell of attention when several of his recordings, like the 1958 Mahler Fifth, were reissued on budget labels. Today, many of his recordings are available on Testament, Brana Records, BBC Legends, and Danacord.

Rudolph (or Rudolf) Schwarz was born on April 29, 1905. He studied music with Richard Strauss and Hans Gal, and at 18 secured the post of répétiteur at the Dusseldorf Opera. He served as an associate conductor at the Karlsruhe State Theater from 1927-1933. In 1936 he was appointed music director at the Berlin-based Jewish Cultural Organization.

In 1939 he was imprisoned by the Nazis and two years later sent to Auschwitz, where he received a shoulder injury that would affect his conducting style for the rest of his life. In 1943 Schwarz was transferred, spending the remainder of the war years in other Nazi concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen.

Schwarz traveled to England in 1947 and was appointed conductor of the Bournemouth Municipal (later Symphony) Orchestra. The 1950s were perhaps his most active decade: he served as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1951-1957 and of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1957-1962. He conducted relatively little opera in England, though he guest conducted at Sadler's Wells and elsewhere.

From 1964 Schwarz served as principal conductor of the Northern Sinfonia and regularly conducted the Bergen Harmonien Symphony Orchestra in Norway. Schwarz departed his Northern Sinfonia post in 1973 and for most of the 1970s he guest conducted the Bournemouth Symphony. In his final decade or so, he was largely inactive.