Born: June 15, 1902 - Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: February 28, 1995 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
The eminent German-born American conductor, renowned teacher and recognized musicologist, Max Rudolf, began his musical training at the age of seven. He studied cello with Maurits Frank, piano with Eduard Jung, and composition with Bernhard Sekles, and also learned to play the organ and the trumpet. In 1921-1922 he attended the University of Frankfurt am Main.
In 1922 Max Rudolf became a repetiteur at the Freiburg im Breisgau Opera, where he made his conducting debut in 1923. After working as a répétiteur at the Darmstadt Opera (1923-1925), he returned there to hold its post of 1st conductor from 1927 to 1929. From 1929 to 1935 he conducted at the German Theater in Prague. In 1929-1930 he appeared as a guest conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1935 he went to Göteborg, where he made appearances as a conductor with both the radio orchestra and the orchestra society.
In 1940 Max Rudolf immigrated to the USA and in 1945 became a naturalized American citizen. He conducted the New Opera Company in New York, before joining the staff of the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1945, remaining for 13 seasons. In January 1946 he made his first appearance as a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in a Sunday night concert. His formal debut followed in March 1946, when he conducted Der Rosenkavalier. From 1950 to 1958 he served as artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera, and also was active as a conductor there. In 1958 he became music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a position he retained with distinction until 1969, as well as director of the Cincinnati May festival. In 1966 he led it on a world tour and in 1969 on a major tour of Europe. He also served as music director of the Cincinnati May Festival in 1963 and again from 1967 to 1970. He has been a guest conductor for most major American orchestras. As was to be expected, he displayed a mastery of baton technique. In his interpretations, he excelled in unmannered performances of the great Austro-German masterpieces.
From 1970 to 1973 Max Rudolf was head of the opera and conducting departments at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1973-1974 he was principal conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and he also returned to the Metropolitan Opera as a conductor during this time. In 1976-1977 he was music advisor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. In subsequent years, he made occasional appearances as a guest conductor with American orchestras. From 1983 he again taught at the Curtis Institute of Music.
One of the most acclaimed experts on conducting in the world, Dr. Max Rudolf is the author of The Grammar of Conducting: A Comprehensive Guide to Baton Technique and Interpretation (New York, 1950; 3rd edition, 1994), the most widely-used text in the field. He was a panel member of the National Endowment of the Arts, in 1985 he was award winner of Hazlett Memorial for Excellence in Music, and in 1988 he received the 1st Theodore Thomas Award for his services to music. In 1992, at the age of 90, he was the conductor laureate of Concerto Soloists in Philadelphia.