Julius Rudel took a shoestring company, the New York City Opera, and made it a fearless international contender. Furthermore, he promoted and encouraged American opera and American artists at a time when both were in desperate need of cheerleaders.
Though he lived for only 17 years in Vienna, where he was born in 1921, Julius Rudel absorbed its musical traditions and adroitly mixed them with American ones. In 1943, he joined the newly-minted New York City Opera as a rehearsal pianist and soon thereafter made his conducting debut with The Gypsy Baron. In his mid-30s, he became the General Director/Principal Conductor of the New York City Opera. During his 22-year tenure, imaginative programming, from the baroque to the brand-new, was the rule. Under Rudel, the City Opera presented more than fifty 20th-century operas, 19 world premieres and 7 U.S. premieres, as well as 3 seasons of all American operas. Productions put equal emphasis on drama and music.
In a career that spans more than six decades and has placed him on podiums throughout the world, Rudel has conducted more than 165 operas, including many at the Metropolitan Opera over 25 years. His musical scope is vast, but he is perhaps best appreciated for his efforts to revive Kurt Weill's music, including U.S. premieres of Die Bürgschaft and Silverlake. Among Rudel's many honors are the Opera News Award, Kurt Weill Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award, and New York City's Handel Medallion. He was the first Music Director of Wolf Trap and the first Artistic Director of the Kennedy Center, where he commissioned Bernstein's Mass.
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