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Rudolf Matz (1901 – 1988)

Rudolf Matz

Cellist, Teacher, Author

Born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1901, Rudolf Matz studied cello, composition, and conducting at the Zagreb Academy of Music, graduating in 1926. His musical career is noted for its diversity and he has long been recognized as one of the leading figures in the cultural life of his native country. He was appointed Professor of Cello at the University of Zagreb in 1950 and held that position until his retirement in 1972. He has served as a member of several juries for the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow since 1966. A prolific composer who has written works for a wide variety of media, Matz has produced nearly 100 compositions for cello or cello ensembles. His magnum opus, the 31-volume method, entitled First Years of Violoncello, was first published in Zagreb with various volumes appearing between 1946 and 1971. Cellists throughout Europe and North America soon recognized the importance of this work, which has been described as the best and most comprehensive method for cello since the publication of J.L. Duport’s Essay on Fingering the Violoncello and on the Conduct of the Bow in the early 19th century.

Professor Matz’s pedagogical works and compositions for cello are based on a profound understanding of the historical evolution of cello playing as well as on his own practical experience as a performer and teacher. They differ significantly from other 20-century cello works in that he has thoroughly and systematically revised the pedagogical approach to the all-important early years of technical and musical development. His revisions include: practical application of relevant concepts and recent discoveries from the fields of anatomy, physiology, sports medicine and psychology; correction or elimination of various pedagogical “errors” such as over-extension of the left hand which appeared in some early 20th-century methods; and the successful combination of the best features of various schools of technique in a balanced and practical form. Rudolf Matz died in Zagreb, Croatia in 1988.