Rudolf Kempe, Principal Conductor to some of the leading orchestras and opera houses in Europe, was one of the last representatives of the great German conducting tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. Throughout the world he was highly regarded for his baton technique which in its brilliance and clarity was second to none; for the authenticity of his interpretations of an uncommonly wide repertoire in both opera and concert; for his qualities as an educator and guiding spirit of orchestras; and for his integrity as a musician and as a man. His relationship with the music scene in England, dating back to 1953, was extraordinary. It was based on mutual respect between him and the musicians, and on a deep understanding of mentality and shared artistic aims. It lasted almost a quarter of a century, until his death in 1976.
The Rudolf Kempe Society, founded in London in 1980, and its German Branch, launched in Munich in 1982, are both registered charities which, through a variety of activities in England and Germany, work independently as well as through an exchange scheme towards the same goal in professional education: to bridge the gap between the means of training generally offered by established institutions and the ever-increasing demands made on young musicians entering the profession.
SIR COLIN DAVIS - Honorary President of the Rudolf Kempe Society
A Tribute by Cordula Kempe
For some thirty years, I have been fortunate enough to experience numerous concert and opera performances as well as rehearsals conducted by Sir Colin Davis, in Munich, London and Dresden, and he became my favourite conductor as well as a very dear personal friend.
Like my late husband, Sir Colin had made his way to the conductor's rostrum from within the orchestra. You can always tell - they are the best. They know the repertoire better than those who just study scores at the piano; they know what orchestra musicians need and look for, and how they respond to what they are given; how they reward you when you are giving it without putting your own ego between them and the music. Sir Colin's beat was always clear, unfussy, and inspiring without a trace of showmanship. He just let the music happen. It is called musical integrity.
As most of you will have heard, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the great German baritone and arguably the finest singer, musician and interpreter of his time in every genre of classical music, has died. On 18 May, the announcement of his death was the first item in every news broadcast on the BBC – which goes to show how widely the loss of this unique artist is felt.
The Rudolf Kempe Society – Fischer-Dieskau’s brainchild years before English musicians decided to found it – has lost its Patron of thirty-four years standing, a guiding spirit and tower of strength in upholding the artistic excellence and personal integrity which his fellow artist Rudolf Kempe stood for.