The German conductor, Rolf Beck, studied law in Marburg and Lausanne and graduated both legal examinations. In addition he studied choral conducting with Wilhelm Ehmann and Wolfgang Gönnewein. He then studied conducting in the class of professor Helmut Rilling at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt am Main, and completed the final examination for choral conducting.
Rolf Beck has worked as a choral conductor since 1968. In 1972 he created Vokalensemble Marburg, which within short time took an important place among the prominent German choirs. With this ensemble he won numerous important prizes, such as in 1976 the second place at the International Choir Festival in Cork, Ireland, and likewise the second place in 1982 at the German Choir Festival in Cologne.
In 1981 Rolf Beck was appointed as the director of the Bamberger Symphoniker, and in 1983 created the Choir of the Bamberger Symphoniker and the instrumental ensemble Concerto Bamberg, with which he continues his musical work at national and international level. In 1996 he moved to the NDR Hamburg, and was head of the orchestra and choir. In addition, he became in 1998 the director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (SHMF) and was appointed its director since the autumn of 2002. He is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Choir Academy of the SHMF.
The great choral oratorios and religious works of George Frideric Handel, Mozart and L.v. Beethoven as well as those of Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms have long been a focal point of his repertoire, which also includes works of the 20th century. In the 2004-2005 season, for example, he contrasted F. Mendelssohn's Walpurgis Night with Alfred Schnittke's Faust Cantata in a special concert project with the Bamberger Symphoniker.
With the choir of the Bamberger Symphoniker Rolf Beck has given concerts in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia and various South American countries as well as in Japan, in addition to his many performances at important German music centres. In Israel Beck conducted the first St. John Passion (BWV 245) by Bach ever to be performed by a guest ensemble. In recent years he has given successful guest performances at festivals such as the Prague Spring Music Festival, the International Bruckner Festival in Linz, the Festival de Musique de Strasbourg, the Würzburg Mozart Festival, the Herrenchiemsee Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival and the Beethoven Festival in Cracow. As Artistic Director of the Choir Academy of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, with whom he also performs outside northern Germany, he has given tours in Spain and Japan. The many orchestras that Rolf Beck has conducted include the Bamberger Symphoniker, Sinfonia Varsovia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Capella Istropolitana, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic and Kanazawa Ensemble.
At the end of 2006 Rolf Beck made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum in Prague. On the programme was Mozart's version of G.F. Handel's Messiah. In the opening concert of the Vilnius Festival 2007 he conducted J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (BWV 245) in a production of Bob Wilson. In 2007-2008 season he will conduct in Germany, Portugal, Japan and Poland works by Schnittke, F. Mendelssohn, J. Brahms and Schubert.
Among the most memorable of Rolf Beck's many recordings are Rossini's Petite Messe solennelle and J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio. (BWV 248).