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Max Rostal (1905 - 1991)

One of the more significant twentieth-century pedagogues, Rostal was taught by Rosé in Vienna and Flesch in Berlin. He was acclaimed by Flesch as outstanding, becoming his assistant at the Berlin Hochschule in 1928. Dismissed by the Nazis in 1934 he was reunited in England with Flesch, who had left Germany at the same time. Leaving for Holland in 1939, Flesch sent his pupils in England to Rostal, who soon became professor at the Guildhall.

Rostal was described as a ‘thinking violinist’, expecting his students to look into the lives of composers before beginning to interpret their music and insisting they study the full score of a concerto. He was accused by some of ‘cloning’ (demanding that pupils use his fingerings and bowings), but denied this.

During his early career critics noted Rostal’s ‘sweet and transparent tone’ and ‘rhythmic drive’. He enjoyed contemporary music, giving many premières including first UK performances of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto and Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and commissioned concertos by Bernard Stevens and Benjamin Frankel. Rostal also played Frankel’s Viola Concerto. He wrote violin studies, edited several works, and produced piano reductions of orchestral parts.




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