Max Bruch (1838-1920) received his first musical instruction from his mother, a singer. From 1853 to 1857 he studied composition with Ferdinand Hiller. Afterwards he lived in Leipzig, Bonn and Mannheim, and later held music director posts in Koblenz (1865-1867) and Sondershausen (1867-1870). In the following years he taught in Berlin and after 1873 lived as a freelance composer in Bonn. During this time he made contact with the most important musical personalities of his time, including Johannes Brahms, Joseph Joachim and Pablo de Sarasate. In 1878 he began directing the Sternsches Gesangverein in Berlin and from 1880 to 1883 he directed the Philharmonic Society in Liverpool. After a trip to the USA he became the music director of the Breslau Orchesterverein until 1891, when he took up the post of professor of composition at the Berlin Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts). His students there included the operetta composers Oscar Straus and Eduard Künnecke, as well as the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. During the course of his career he received many awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1893.