A student of Greek-German medievalist Thrasybulos Georgiadis and Renaissance music specialist Marie-Louise Göllner, musicologist and conductor Konrad Ruhland is a pioneering German figure in the field of early music performance, something of a Continental counterpart to Noah Greenberg in the U.S.
or the similarly academically influenced David Munrow in Britain. He was born in Landau, Germany, and obtained his earliest musical training as a chorister in the cathedral choir of Passau. He then studied history, medieval Latin, theology, and liturgical history, all of which he has applied to his performance practice research. In 1956, he founded the Capella Antiqua München, bringing together a group of young vocal students in Munich. This became one of the first ensembles to apply a historical approach to Renaissance and early Baroque music.
Many of the large number of albums he made contain choral music that had never been recorded before, and his interests as a performer ranged from the earliest music of the Christian era up to the 17th century. In line with Ruhland's academic interests, some of his recordings (such as The Moosburg Gradual of 1360) are devoted to specific manuscripts or settings. Though his style lacks the expression that later performers have brought to much of the music he unearthed, his music making is never pedantic or dull. His 1966 recording Gregorian Chant is considered a classic and has been reissued on CD by Sony Classical; Ruhland's notes offer a straightforward introduction to the music, free of the pop mysticism that has attended many chant releases. Through the 1960s and 1970s Ruhland led the group in recordings for a number of labels, including Telefunken, Seon, Christophorus, and Sony. After the Capella disbanded, he conducted recordings by the Niederaltaicher Scholaren. Still active as a choral conductor and educator in both Europe and the U.S., he is notable for his vast expertise on diverse repertories of music.