As one of the 20th century's greatest conductors, he helped bring Gustav Mahler to prominence and into the repertory.
He made his public pianist debut at the age of nine after entering the Stern Conservatory when he was eight. He performed a full concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1890.
He worked with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Salzburg Festival, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
He was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.
He contributed much to the recorded repertoire of Germanic composers, laying down pieces by such artists as Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Joseph Haydn.