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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Julius Rudel

In 2009, conductor Julius Rudel was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on May 2, 2010.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Julius Rudel, conductor

The Austrian-born conductor Julius Rudel (1921–2014) joined the newly minted New York City Opera as a rehearsal pianist in 1943 and soon thereafter made his conducting debut with The Gypsy Baron. In his mid-30s, he became the general director and 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 seven U.S. premieres, as well as three seasons of American operas. In a career that spanned more than six decades and placed him on podiums throughout the world, Rudel conducted more than 165 operas, including many at the Metropolitan Opera over 25 years. His musical scope was 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. Was the first music director of Wolf Trap and the first artistic director of the Kennedy Center, where he commissioned Bernstein's Mass.

Rudel was a 2009 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.