Composer, Robert Kahn is a recipient of little international recognition, and although his musical output stands as a brilliant asset to the arts, most of it remains largely unknown. Contemporary of Johannes Brahms, the two German composers were close friends. Being thirty-two years Kahn’s senior, Brahms offered to teach and mentor the young composer. However, Kahn declined the invitation and received his formal training first from the Berlin Musikhochschule and later as a student at the Munich Akademie der Tonkunst between the years 1882 and 1886.
After his schooling and a time of service in the military, Kahn worked as a repetiteur for three years at the Leipzig Stadttheater, where he conducted rehearsals for the opera company. Along with composition, his most enduring career was that of piano and music theory teacher at the Berlin Musikhochschule, where he taught diligently for thirty-six years.
If fate had unwound the remainder of his teaching and compositional career in a different part of the globe, it could be speculated that he would have greater recognition today as both composer and teacher. However, his residence in Germany coupled with his Jewish background caused him to endure the despicable persecution of the Nazi regime.
In 1934, sixteen years after being elected to the historical and influential Berlin Akademie der Künste, Kahn was forced to resign from his position along with forty-one other members for both political and anti-Semitic reasons. Not only did Nazi force lead him to resign from the Akademie, it also spurred his emigration to England in the year 1937.
He spent nearly fourteen years in Biddenden, Kent before his peaceful death in the spring of 1951. During those many years, and regardless of his unfortunate circumstances, his creative genius could not be squelched. Although he lacked a strong music community as an émigré in Kent, he composed over 1,000 works for piano. In addition to composing for solo piano, Kahn wrote many choral and orchestral works, but his best musical contributions come in the form of lieder and chamber music.
It can be said that Kahn has a romantic Brahmsian compositional style, and certainly this comparison is true. However, it diminishes the individuality of Robert Kahn and lends him to the obscure shadows that he has remained in for much of his life. Masterpiece Finder urges you to discover Kahn’s masterful compositions for yourself below.