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Julius Rudel papers

Identifier: MP-0014-01


Julius Rudel (1921-2014) was an opera and orchestra conductor who graduated from the Mannes School of Music in 1942. He served as music director for several organizations, most notably as director and principal conductor for New York City Opera from 1957 to 1979. The collection includes annotated conducting scores, notes, a scrapbook of news clippings, programs and playbills, correspondence, biographical material, and photographs.


  • circa 1942-2014



13.2 Cubic Feet (1 AB box, 3 OSx boxes, 6 Record Cartons, and 7 Small Flat boxes)

Language of Materials





Spanish; Castilian



Scope and Contents

This collection consists of materials related to the career of Austrian-born American conductor Julius Rudel (1921-2014), noted for his work with New York City Opera, which he joined in 1943 after graduating from The Mannes Music School, and became its music director from 1957 to 1979. The collection includes awards and certificates granted during Rudel’s career, numerous small notes he wrote and collected as material for his memoir, a scrapbook of press clippings, photographs, playbills of the performances he conducted, and several music scores annotated by Rudel. Few of the playbills included in the collection are from New York City Opera, and the majority of scores are orchestral works, several of which are works he conducted as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1979 to 1985.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Biographical Note

Julius Rudel (born 1921, Vienna, Austria - died 2014, New York, New York) was an Austrian-born American opera and orchestral conductor. He initially studied music at the Vienna Academy of Music from 1936 to 1938. After the death of his father and the Nazi annexation of Austria, Rudel emigrated to the United States with his mother and younger brother in 1938 at the age of 17.

While taking odd jobs to support his family, Rudel received a scholarship to the David Mannes Music School, where he studied conducting under the head of the Mannes opera program, Carl Bamberger (1902-1987), who had also fled Vienna for New York City. Rudel got his first experience as a conductor at Mannes, conducting a concert of the student orchestra in Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. He received his diploma in conducting from Mannes in 1942. In that same year, Rudel married Rita Gillis, who would later obtain a PhD from New York University in 1955 and become a neuropsychologist affiliated with MIT, Columbia University, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital during her career.

In 1943, Rudel was hired as a rehearsal pianist at the newly formed New York City Opera. Although his conducting experience up to that point consisted of Mannes student concerts, rehearsals of the amateur Parkchester Symphony, and a performance of The Mikado at City College, Rudel made his conducting debut with New York City Opera in 1944 in a production of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Der Zigeunerbaron. That same year, he became a United States citizen.

Rudel continued as an assistant conductor at New York City Opera and in 1957, when the company’s music director, Erich Leinsdorf, resigned after serving one year, Rudel was named as his replacement. Rudel was music director for New York City Opera from 1957 to 1979, where he championed American and contemporary opera, programming over fifty twentieth century operas, nineteen world premieres and three seasons of exclusively American operas. Among the American works that received premieres at New York City Opera during this time were: Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe (1958), Hugo Weisgall’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (1959), Robert Ward’s The Crucible (1961).

During Rudel’s tenure at New York City Opera, he also served as the first music director for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. from 1971 to 1975, which opened with the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (1971). In 1978, Rudel made his conducting debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Jules Massenet’s Werther and he subsequently conducted more than 200 performances there, in addition to guest-conducting at major opera houses in the United States and internationally. After leaving New York City Opera, Rudel served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 to 1985. In 2013, a memoir of Rudel’s life, which he co-authored with Rebecca Paller, was published, entitled First and Lasting Impressions: Julius Rudel Looks Back on a Life in Music.

Rudel maintained his connection to his alma mater, Mannes, over the years. In 1972, he was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree by Mannes College of Music, one of the first honorary degrees the school conferred. He was a judge of the Mannes Opera Competition in 1973, and in 1975 the Julius Rudel Scholarship for Conducting was established at the school. In 1983, Rudel joined the Board of Trustees of the Mannes College of Music, a position which he held until his death in 2014 at age 93.

Rudel was the father of three children: two daughters, Joan Weinreich and Madeleine Grant, and a son, Anthony, who as of 2020 is a member of the Board of Governors of the College of Performing Arts at The New School, of which the Mannes School of Music is a part. Among Rudel’s many awards are New York City’s Handel Medallion (1965), the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award (2000), a 2007 Opera News Award, and the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.


“2009 NEA Opera Honoree: Julius Rudel, Conductor.” National Endowment for the Arts. Accessed February 24, 2021.

“Conducting- Teaching the Unteachable.” Notes from Mannes 5, no. 1 (November 1971): 2-3.

Cooper, Michael. “A Gift From Julius Rudel to Mannes College.” The New York Times, February 23, 2015.

Course Catalogs. “Mannes College of Music.” 1975-2007. College of Performing Arts Course Catalog Collection. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

“The Face of Mannes.” Notes from Mannes 7, no. 1 (November 1972): 4.

Jacobson, Bernard. “Rudel, Julius.” In Grove Music Online. Accessed February 24, 2021.

“Jan Bach is Awarded Top Prize in First Annual Opera Competition.” Notes from Mannes 8, no. 1 (November 1973): 8.

“Julius Rudel: Austrian-Born Conductor of New York City Opera Who Fled the Nazis and Gave Placido Domingo His Break.” The Times; London (U.K.), September 2014: 53.

Kellow, Brian. “Obituaries: Julius Rudel.” Opera News 79, no. 3 (September 2014): 80.

Kennedy, Joyce, Michael Kennedy, and Tim Rutherford-Johnson, eds. “Rudel, Julius.” The Oxford Dictionary of Music (6 ed.). (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Accessed February 24, 2021.

Loppert, Max, and Israela Stein. "Rudel, Julius." In Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 519. Vol. 17. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale eBooks (accessed February 24, 2021).

“Mannes: About: Leadership and Administration.” The New School. Accessed March 4, 2021.

Mayer, Martin. “New York City Opera Sings for ‘Julius.’” The New York Times, September 29, 1963.

McFadden, Robert D. “Julius Rudel, Longtime Impresario and Conductor of City Opera, Dies at 93.” The New York Times, June 26, 2014. “Paid Notice: Deaths Rudel, Julius.” The New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast), June 29, 2014.

“Rita G. Rudel.” International Journal of Neuroscience 26, no. 1-2 (1985): 155-156.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to The New School Archives by Julius Rudel's children Madeleine Grant, Anthony Rudel, and Joan Weinreich in 2015.

Related Materials

Opera America holds Julius Rudel’s opera-related scores, and other opera-related material, including costume illustrations and playbills.

Processing Information

Most annotated scores in the collection contain dynamic markings, circled passages, and section marks. A smaller number of scores include some combination of corrections, cuts, articulation marks, and/or metronome numbers. A few scores contain marked beat patterns, and some baroque and classical scores contain written ornaments or cadenzas. Unannotated scores were not accessioned.

Guide to the Julius Rudel papers
Jason Adamo
September 18, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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