Today's Classical Music Video

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kempe Conducts Dvorak

Rudolf Kempe (1910-1976) gave me a splendid introduction to Wagner's Ring cycle in 1960. These were broadcasts of Bayreuth live performances and they were wonderful. Kempe was a regular at Bayreuth and in constant demand as a guest conductor with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Dresden.

I grew up listening to his splendid recordings of Brahms Requiem and Strauss tone poems. Kempe also conducted regularly at the Met although he rarely appeared with American orchestras.

Kempe was born in Dresden and studied oboe and piano. He played oboe in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and he was a good enough pianist to play Mozart concertos.

I heard Kempe live only once: a concert with the Royal Philharmonic in London in 1969. He was simply one of the best and musicians knew it.

His recordings are hard to find these days and they deserve a better fate. For more on Kempe visit his website at

In this video Kempe conducts the BBC Symphony - he was its chief conductor at the time - in the final movement from Dvorak's New World Symphony. The concert was given at a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1974.

Paul E. Robinson

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