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Adolf Busch

Adolf Georg Wilhelm Busch was born into a musical family that included his older brother, conductor Fritz Busch. Trained on the violin from age 3, Adolph Busch entered the Cologne Conservatory at age 11. He studied conducting and composition with the school's director, Fritz Steinbach, and pursued further composition training with Hugo Gruters. Busch began a long performing association with composer Max Reger in 1907 and received his first major orchestral appointment in 1912 as leader of the Viennese Konzertverein. Following an attempt at organizing a performing group in 1913 -- which fell apart amid the turmoil of WWI -- he co-founded the Busch Quartet in 1918. During the early '20s, with Gosta Andreasson, Karl Doktor, and Paul Grummer in the group, the ensemble achieved international renown for its performances and in 1930, Busch's younger brother Hermann Busch succeeded Grummer as their cellist. Throughout the late '20s and the early '30s, he achieved renown throughout Europe in a dual career, as a member of the Busch Quartet and as a soloist, celebrated for his performances of the Beethoven and Brahms violin concertos, while the quartet was particularly successful with the Beethoven quartets. He was also noted as a teacher and his students included figures such as Yehudi Menuhin. Busch composed as well, very much in the mold of Reger, but his recognition rests upon his work as a re-creative musician. During the mid-1930s, he founded the Busch Chamber Players, whose stripped-down interpretations of such Baroque works as Bach's Brandenburg Concertos achieved great popularity in their time and marked an important early step in removing the layers of Romantic-era bombast that had been applied to them. The group's subsequent recordings in England of these pieces and the suites for orchestra, and works such as the Handel Op. 6 concerti grossi, were unique in their time and remain highly prized. Busch also organized a piano trio with his brother Hermann and pianist Rudolf Serkin, who also served as his accompanist and subsequently married Busch's daughter. Busch moved to the United States in 1939 and the Busch Quartet was re-formed by 1941. He remained active as a soloist, as well as a member of the chamber group for the remainder of his life, and he also conducted orchestras. In 1950, two years before his death, Busch founded the Marlboro School of Music.
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