Obituary: Rudolph Fellner / Opera expert, professor at Carnegie Mellon July 6, 1913 — Sept. 2, 2011
Up to the age of 98, Rudolph Fellner could be seen at just about every classical music event in Pittsburgh, from his own field of opera to the symphony, chamber music, new music, even Broadway. The highly respected opera director, musician, coach and professor had strong opinions and he made them known with disarming candor.
Mr. Fellner died Friday of leukemia in his Schenley Gardens apartment.
He first studied piano as a child in his native Vienna, then went on to study with composer Eric Ziesl, achieving a conducting diploma from the famed Vienna Academy of Music, where his teachers included Felix Weingartner and Josef Krips. He was appointed music director of several opera groups and coached singers privately until the dangers for Jews under the Nazis forced him to emigrate to England and then the United States.
In England he met Anita Heufeld, a successful dressmaker who had a business in Pittsburgh and created most of his 100-plus trademark bow ties. The couple celebrated their 66th anniversary in May. After Mrs. Fellner died at their Squirrel Hill home on June 8, Mr. Fellner moved to an assisted living facility.
He served with the U.S. Army during the war, and in 1947 received a master’s degree in music from Chicago Musical College, where he established an opera workshop. As conductor, chorus master and coach, he worked regularly at Kansas City Opera, San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago and joined the pioneering television efforts ofNBC Opera in the early 1950s.
Mr. Fellner came to Pittsburgh in 1964 to teach and direct the opera programs at Carnegie Mellon University. His memorable productions there included standards such as Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” and Massenet’s “Manon,” rarities such as Flotow’s “Martha,” and contemporary works including local premieres of Britten’s “Albert Herring,” Kalmanoff’s “The Bald Prima Donna” and Maw’s “One Man Show.” He also worked with Civic Light Opera during this time.
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