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PHD / Adolf Busch

Jakob completed a PhD, The Piano Works of Adolf Busch – Aspects of Style and Pianism, at University of York in 2023. The thesis and accompanying material are now available on




Adolf Busch (1891–1952) is primarily remembered as one of the greatest German violinists of the twentieth century. He is also noted for his moral integrity and his clear and uncompromising stance against the rise of the Nazis, but the fact that he was also a prolific composer is less known. Influenced by Brahms, Busoni and most of all Max Reger, Busch developed his own uniquely complex and distinctly individual musical language. Existing writing on Busch consists of a major biography, the cataloguing of his compositions, and research into his songs, as well as a range of short essays in journals and festschrifts. References to modernism in Busch’s compositions are apparent in past scholarship, but overall, a broad consensus has been established that his style is tonally and structurally largely traditional. Focusing on the stylistic context of Busch’s piano works, my research mainly confirms this view but further specifies subtle shifts in his musical language, highlighting signs of idiomatic innovation and tonal experimentation, particularly in his middle period. This thesis is the first study of Busch’s piano works. It combines practice research through performance with musicological research and editing of primary sources such as manuscripts held in the Busch Archive.

Drawing together research on Busch, musical analysis and the findings of performance practice, I investigate the piano works in the context of twentieth-century music in general and Busch’s oeuvre in particular, specifically with a particular focus on his most substantial contribution to solo piano repertoire, the Sonata Op. 25. Furthermore, I explore the extent to which editorial and wider research impacts upon my pianistic interpretation. The submission consists of: i) a written thesis examining the issues outlined above; ii) a recording of Busch's entire piano works; iii) a later recording of the Sonata Op. 25, using iv) my new edition of this work, prepared from the two available sources: the autograph manuscript of 1922 and the first edition of 1925. Busch’s piano pieces provide an invaluable testimony to the conflict between tradition and innovation in the early twentieth century. I hope that this research will contribute to their rediscovery.


Busch Kollegium

Jakob is collaborating with the clarinettist Bettina Beigelbeck, founder and director of the Karlsruhe-based Busch Kollegium. Bettina has extensively championed lesser-known repertoire and, like Jakob, has dedicated much of her work to the music of the violinist and composer Adolf Busch. In addition to numerous performances featuring Busch, both have released CDs dedicated to his works for Toccata Classics. They are going to perform sonatas by Brahms, Busch and Reger in a series of concerts in autumn 2023, in order to celebrate Reger's sesquicentennial, who was the composer most influential to Busch.


Breitkopf & Härtel

Jakob has worked as an editor for Breitkopf & Härtel since 2018 and looked after two of their new publications:


Adolf Busch, Sonata for Piano Op. 25:

Adolf Busch, Quintet for Flute, Violin, 2 Violas and ‘Cello Op. 68:

The edition of Busch’s Piano Sonata attracted excellent press reviews.


…seine [Ficherts] profunde Kenntnis dieser Musik beeindruckt: Die Korrekturen gegenüber der Erstausgabe und des Autografs sind gut nachvollziehbar und die Fingersätze sehr hilfreich …

(…his [Fichert’s] profound knowledge of the music is impressive: the corrections of the first edition and the autograph are clearly traceable and the fingerings very helpful …)

Schweizer Musikzeitung, October 27, 2020

Links to the full reviews

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