BPO Music Director: 1979-1985
Born on March 6, 1921, Julius Rudel received his earliest musical instruction in his native Vienna where he also pursued advanced study at the Academy of Music. At the age of 17 he emigrated to the United States and enrolled in the Mannes School of Music in New York. His long association with the New York City Opera began when he joined the company as a rehearsal pianist in 1943. He made his conducting debut in 1944 with Johann Strauss' Gypsy Baron. Rudel was appointed Music Director of the City Center Opera in 1957 which in time developed into one of the best and most enterprising companies in the United States.
In 1979 Mr. Rudel left his post at the New York City Opera to extend his symphonic activities in the U.S. and across Europe. He became music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and forged a special link with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, a collaboration which has led to a continuing series of recordings on the MusicMasters label that has included orchestral works by Haydn, Schubert, and Kurt Weill as well as the European recordings of the music of Mozart, Weill, and Ginastera.
Rudel's tenure with the Buffalo Philharmonic was marked with emphasis on the classical repertoire as well as gala performances with Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo. In addition to directing the Orchestra's performances in Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center, Rudel also took the BPO on its first West Coast tour which resulted in excellent press reviews in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Phoenix and Tucson. He also directed the BPO's commemorative LP recording with CBS Masterworks featuring music of the holiday season. While Rudel's interpretive style reveals a fine sense of classical line and balance in the finest Viennese tradition, his sense for the lyrical stage is everywhere apparent, even in purely symphonic works. He is especially respected in the opera world for his artistic control of the poetic rubato which is requisite to the interpretive demands of leading singers and vocal ensembles. A brilliant example of this can be heard in Rudel's CD release titled Welcome to Vienna on the EMI label with Beverly Sills and the London Philharmonic, featuring jewels like Lehar's Vija from The Merry Widow and Sieczynski's Vienna, City of my Dreams. Exquisite.
In addition to his orchestral and opera conducting, Rudel has served as an important musical administrator in a variety of venues. He directed the opening seasons of Washington's Kennedy Center as its first music director and was also the first music director of the Wolf Trap Festival. Other posts he has held include music directorships of the Cincinnati May Festival, the Caramoor Festival and music adviser to the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Today Mr. Rudel continues to work with many of the world's finest opera companies including the Metropolitan in New York, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opéra Bastille in Paris, Royal Opera in Copenhagen, Berlin's Deutsche Oper and the Stadttheater in Berne, Switzerland.
Along the way Rudel has won a Grammy Award and seven Grammy Nominations. His many opera recordings include Massenet's Manon and Cendrillon, Boito's Mefistofele, Verdi's Rigoletto, Bellini's I puritani, Weill's Silverlake and Lost in the Stars, Ginastera's Bomarzo, and Handel's Giulio Cesare which won the Schwann Award for Best Opera Recording. He has also made several filmed videos with such international artists as Kiri te Kanawa, Eva Marton, and Frederica von Stade.
Mr. Rudel was made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by France and has been decorated by the governments of Austria, Germany, and Israel. Moreover, he has received a variety of honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the United States.