Rudolf Kempe, 2010-76, was one of a very small group, a shy, self-effacing orchestral conductor. In an era of massive egos, think of Solti, Karajan and Fritz Reiner, Kempe never lost touch with his musicians, with the score – as set down by the composer and for the needs and aspirations of young musicians. As might be expected from this, he did not talk or write a great deal about his music-making, letting his performances and recordings speak for themselves.
However, his decision to make his experience in music available in biographic form emanated from his this concern for young musicians and conductors. First published in Germany in 1977 and in this translation by Cordula Kempe-Oettinger, his widow, two years later, this book has a Preface by the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, text by Kempe-Oettinger with Werner Neumeister as Picture Consultant.
Fischer-Dieskau had the original idea of establishing a Rudolf Kempe Society and served as its Patron for thirty-four years until his death in 2012. Given the source of the text this is not a critical assessment of the man and his work, but it does offer the most detailed description of the Kempe’s musical life, which for an orchestral conductor was sadly so short.
The fascinating text is presented in three sections addressing  ‘Rudi Kempe – Oboist’, ‘Towards the Conductor’s Desk’, ‘Post-War Years: an End and a Beginning’, which are followed by a Picture Section 1912-1954,  ‘Jet Set’, something which was anathema to Kempe’s attitude to conducting and music-making, and Picture Session for 1955-1969, and  ‘Man and Musician’, with a final Picture Section covering 1970-1976.undefined