University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Former Eastman director leads orchestra

Hendl during his tenure as Eastman's director

Conductor Walter Hendl returns to the school Friday, April 15, to lead the Eastman Philharmonia in its closing concert of the season. Eastman School director from 1964 to 72, Hendl will guest conduct the student orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre. The concert is free and open to the public.

"We are honored to have Walter Hendl return to Eastman and conduct the Philharmonia," says Eastman School Director and Dean James Undercofler '67E, who was a student when Hendl was director. "While he'll find that much has changed in the years since he led the school, our unflinching commitment to excellence in artistry, scholarship, and leadership has endured."

A native of New Jersey, Hendl was born in 1917 and studied conducting with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute in the 1930s, and later with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood. By 1958 he had held conducting positions with the New York Philharmonic and with the Dallas and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.

In addition to conducting, Hendl is highly regarded as a concert pianist and has recorded Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the New York Philharmonic under Bruno Walter. He also made a number of recordings for RCA Victor, collaborating with such soloists as Jascha Heifetz, Van Cliburn, Henryk Szeryng, and Gary Graffman.

Early in his tenure at Eastman, Hendl initiated a series of Composer's Weeks, each devoted to the in-depth study of the body of one monumental figure in contemporary music. He also is credited with fostering several innovative programs at Eastman, including curricula in accompanying, conducting, jazz studies and contemporary media, and electronic music, as well as the establishment of the new music ensemble Musica Nova.

Since leaving the school, Hendl has held appointments as music director of the Erie (Pennsylvania) Philharmonic and most recently as professor of conducting at Mercyhurst College in Erie.

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