German composer and pianist Julius Röntgen was born in Leipzig on 9 May 1855, into a very musical family - his mother was a pianist and his father was leader of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. A gifted child, he was taught music by members of his family, and his first piano teacher was Carl Reinecke. When he was fourteen, Röntgen played piano for Liszt in Weimar. The Röntgens were members of Heinrich von Herzogenberg's musical circle, and through this connection, Julius Röntgen met Johannes Brahms.
Röntgen studied in Munich with Franz Lachner, a friend of Schubert, and became a professional pianist when he was eighteen. He moved to Amsterdam, taught piano at the music school there, helped to found the Amsterdam Conservatory and the Concertgebouw, and played Brahms' Piano Concerto No 2 with the composer as conductor.
He worked as an accompanist, partnering with Carl Flesch, Johannes Messchaert and Pablo Casals.
When he retired from public life in 1924, one of his sons built him a house in a village near Utrecht, and during his last years he wrote much chamber music and many songs. The house, known as Gaudeamus, became a meeting place for composers and musicians. Visitors included Pablo Casals and Percy Grainger. Later, after World War II, Röntgen's house became the centre of the Gaudeamus Society which promotes Dutch contemporary music.
Röntgen died in Utrecht on 13 September 1932.
CD Spotlight. Sacrificing the 'unmodern' - Music by Julius Röntgen and Per Nørgård, heard by George Balcombe. 'How could any audience resist ... ?'
Record Box. Orchestral Skill - Music by Julius Röntgen, recommended by Gerald Fenech