This week, in celebration of what would have been Julius Rudel’s 100th birthday, Metropolitan Opera Radio is paying tribute to the great American conductor, who appeared on the Met podium for more than 260 performances.
Rudel was born in Vienna on March 6. Seventeen years later, fleeing the Nazi takeover of Austria, he made his way to New York and embarked on a career in music, a career unlike any other. For nearly 70 years, Rudel was a conductor and administrator whose breadth of activities was extraordinary. As a conductor, Rudel led approximately 7,000 performances and had an opera repertoire that exceeded 175 works.
He conducted in most of the world’s major houses. Rudel resurrected the New York City Opera, taking it out of bankruptcy in 1957 and growing it into one of the most important companies in the world. As an administrator, Rudel once held five major posts simultaneously. He not only ran the NYC Opera, but he was the first artistic director of the Kennedy Center, where he commissioned Bernstein’s Mass, and led several important premieres.
In 2012, at the age of 91, Rudel published a memoir called First and Lasting Impressions that retraces the musical journey he’d taken with comments about many of the great artists he’d worked with. Rudel died in June of 2014 leaving a lasting legacy that includes many Metropolitan Opera performances. Showcasing the maestro’s remarkable versatility and supreme musicianship, this week’s lineup features encore presentations of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann from 1985, Handel’s Samson from 1986, and the Met Opera Radio premiere of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus from 1989.
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