Born in Vienna on 6 March 1921, Julius Rudel received his earliest musical instruction in his native city, 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 début in 1944 with Johann Strauss’ Gypsy Baron. In 1957 Rudel was appointed Music Director of the City Center Opera, which in time developed into one of the best and most enterprising companies in the United States. In 1979 he left his post at the New York City Opera to extend his symphonic activities in the United States and across Europe. He became music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, a position he held until 1994, and forged a special link with the Orchestra of St Luke’s, a collaboration which led to a continuing series of recordings.
In addition to his orchestral and opera conducting, Julius Rudel 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 held include music directorships of the Cincinnati May Festival, the Caramoor Festival and music adviser to the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He also worked with many of the world’s finest opera companies including the Metropolitan in New York, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Bastille in Paris, Royal Opera in Copenhagen, Berlin’s Deutsche Oper and the Stadttheater in Berne, Switzerland.
He won a GRAMMY Award and seven GRAMMY nominations, and his many opera recordings include Massenet’s Manon and Cendrillon, Boito’s Mefistofele, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Bellini’s I puritani, Weill’s Silverlake and Last in the Star, Bomarzo, and Handel’s Giulio Cesare, which won the Schwann Award for Best Opera Recording.
He also made several filmed videos with such international artists as Kiri te Kanawa, Eva Marton, and Frederica von Stade. Julius Rudel was made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by France and had been decorated by the governments of Austria, Germany, and Israel. He also received a variety of honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the United States.