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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Kempe, Rudolf

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Rudolf Kempe (1910 - 1976)


Rudolf Kempe was born into a family in which music played little part, but when he was six he began to have piano lessons, taking up the violin when he was twelve and also the oboe; his teacher was Johann König, the first oboe of the Dresden Staatskapelle. Two years later he enrolled at the Music High School in Dresden, where he continued to study with König as well as with Fritz Busch, Karl Schütte, Theodor Blumer and Kurt Striegel, and learnt the accordion as well as his other instruments. Having been engaged as the first oboist in the orchestra of the Dortmund Opera in 1928, two months later Kempe accepted the same position in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (also the orchestra of the Leipzig Opera), in which he played under many distinguished conductors including Beecham, Busch, Furtwängler, Erich Kleiber, Klemperer, Schuricht, Richard Strauss and Walter: often during rehearsals he would have the full score on his desk as well as his own instrumental part. Kempe has revealed in interview how he came to be a conductor during 1935: ‘We were rehearsing Le nozze di Figaro. Paul Schmitz who was principal guest conductor at the Gewandhaus wanted to listen to the second act from the back of the hall. There was no assistant conductor present, so he asked if anyone in the orchestra was ready to conduct the second act. At length he settled on me to take the podium. Fourteen days later, I had to conduct Lortzing’s Der Wildschütz, and that’s when I decided to quit the orchestra and to devote myself entirely to

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