Bruch was born in Cologne, Rhine Province, where he received his early musical training under the composer and pianist Ferdinand Hiller, to whom Robert Schumann dedicated his piano concerto. Ignaz Moscheles recognized his aptitude. Bruch had a long career as a teacher, conductor and composer, moving among musical posts in Germany: Mannheim (1862-1864), Koblenz (1865-1867), Sondershausen, (1867-1870), Berlin (1870-1872), and Bonn, where he spent 1873-78 working privately. At the height of his reputation he spent three seasons as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (1880-83). There he met his wife, Clara Tuczek. He taught composition at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik from 1890 until his retirement in 1910. Bruch died in his house in Berlin-Friedenau.