The Austrian-born British violinist, violist, arranger and music pedagogue, Max Rostal, began his violin studies at age 5. He began playing in public from age 6 (1911) One of his teachers was Arnold Rose, concert-master of the Wiener Philharmoniker for many years. Another was Carl Flesch when he was still teaching in Berlin. According to at least one source, Rostal was often compared to Bronislaw Huberman, Fritz Kreisler, and Eugene Ysaye. In 1925, he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship.
Max Rostal is not particularly well-known for anything other than that he had a long teaching career and was under-rated as a violinist. From 1930 to 1933, he taught at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. From 1944 to 1958, he taught at the Guildhall School of Music in London and played many concerts broadcast over the BBC. He then taught at the Musikhochschule Köln (1957-1982) and the Conservatory in Bern (1957-1985). His pupils included Norbert Brainin, Bryan Fairfax, Howard Leyton-Brown, Peter Langgartner, Sergiu Luca, Yfrah Neaman, Igor Ozim, Edith Peinemann, Angus Ramsay, Gottfried Schneider, Lars Anders Tomter, Herwig Zack, Thomas Zehetmair, and.members of the Amadeus Quartet. In 1944, Rostal was instrumental in organizing the Carl Flesch violin competition (which ran from 1945 until 1992. Raymond Cohen was the first winner of that competition.
Max Rostal played a wide variety of music, including J.S. Bach, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Paganini and Tartini, but was a particular champion of contemporary works such as Béla Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2, and works by English compooserrs as Edward Elgar, Frederick Delius, William Walton. He made a number of recordings, several of which are posted on YouTube, and it is said that his few recordings are now treasured by collectors.. Many critics have also said that he had a very individual style. He was especially praised for his interpretation of B. Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2, and he also recorded Alban. Berg's Violin Concerto ("To the memory of an angel") under the baton of Hermann Scherchen. He premiered Alan Bush's Violin Concerto (1946-1948) in 1949, a work which has not been heard from since. He was the dedicatee of Benjamin Frankel's first solo violin sonata (1942), and he also made the premiere recording. He played in a piano trio with Heinz Schröter (piano) and Gaspar Cassadó (cello), who was replaced in 1967 by Siegfried Palm.
Max Rostal also edited a number of works for violin for Schott Music, produced piano reductions, and wrote method bookl..
Max Rostal died in Switzerland on August 6, 1991, at age 86. His Guarnerius del Gesu is now owned by the Stradivari Society (Chicago, USA). A violin (and viola) competition (begun in Bern in 1991 and now held in Berlin) is named after him. His daughter Sybil B. G. Eysenck became a psychologist and is the widow of the personality psychologist Hans Eysenck, with whom she collaborated.