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German composer, pianist and teacher Robert Kahn was born in Mannheim on 21 July 1865 into a distinguished German-Jewish banking and merchant family. He studied in Berlin at the Königlichen Hochschule für Musik, and then in Munich with Josef Rheinberger. He met and became friends with Brahms in Vienna, and Brahms had a strong effect on Kahn's lyrical musical style, which has also been likened to that of Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.
Kahn completed his military service, worked in Berlin as a freelance composer, then later as a rehearsal pianist at the Leipzig Stattheater. From 1894 he taught composition in Berlin at the Königlichen Hochschule für Musik, where his students included Nikos Skalkottas, Ferdinand Leitner, Wilhelm Kempff and Arthur Rubinstein. He also worked as a pianist, playing chamber music with top performers such as Adolf Busch and Joseph Joachim, who also commissioned works from him.
From 1916 until 1934 he was a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, but then the Nazis made him resign and banned all performance and publication of his 'degenerate' music. Life became untenable in Germany, so he spent the rest of his life in England, where he wrote a large amount of piano music.
Robert Khan died in Biddenham, Kent on 29 May 1951, aged eighty-five.
His music is gradually being re-discovered.
CD Spotlight. High Romanticism - Paul Sarcich discovers the music of Robert Kahn. 'Ensemble Émigré have done fine service to Kahn ...'
CD Spotlight. Highly Appealing - Chamber music by Robert Kahn impresses Gerald Fenech. '... zealous advocates of Kahn's cause ...'