The German conductor, Hermann Max, studied music at the Berlin Musikhochschule and musicology at the University of Köln. In addition he studied there art history and archaeology.
Since the 1960's, historical performance practice has become an established part of musical life. Historical Performance Practice (HIP) includes research in libraries and archives, making editions faithful to the original sources, the use of historical instruments (or exact replicas) and above all, musical performance that pays regard to the rules for a particular period. One of the key figures in this development in Germany is Hermann Max.
Hermann Max came to the fore in the first place with the Rheinische Kantorei and the Baroque Orchestra Das Kleine Konzert through a series of productions for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. With these recordings he was able to make an important contribution to throwing light on J.S. Bach's musical surroundings. Together with his ensembles, he has not only saved countless outstanding works of the German Baroque period from being forgotten, but has also built up a reputation for exemplary interpretations of standard works such as J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) and the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) both in concerts and CD recordings. He is considered as one of the principal researchers and developers of the HIP, which has become the prevailing approach to the performance of early music today. The ideals that guided him in directing his choir are based on the Italian tradition: a bright sound, precise diction, secure intonation, transparency and lightness.
Hermann Max is active as an editor of early music, and regularly conducts, among others, the international interpretations for choral conducting and choral singing in Romain-môtier (Switzerland). Without his efforts, we would have a false or incomplete picture of an important period in musical history, the middle German music surrounding J.S. Bach, his sons and countless relations, colleagues and students. The numerous recordings for West German Radio and the many prize-winning CD's bear witness to this ambitious project he has pursued for many years. In 1998, he was awarded the Telemann-Prize by the city of Magdeburg for his efforts on behalf of Georg Philipp Telemann's music.
Furthermore, Hermann Max makes frequent appearances as a guest conductor and gives courses in the interpretation of early music both at home and abroad. In 1992, he founded the Knechtsteden-Festlichen Tage Alter Musik festival, which now takes place annually under his direction in the Romanesque monastery church of Knechtsteden near Düsseldorf. In June 2004 he performed with his choir and orchestra J.S. Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) at the Israel Festival Jerusalem. In June 2006 he performed in Israel J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) with the Israel Camerata Orchestra Jerusalem.