Robert Rudié

In memoriam

Robert Rudié

If the violins across the city sound especially melancholy this month, it may be because they're mourning the loss of a longtime master of the fiddle – perhaps the longest Austin's known. Robert Rudié passed away Sunday, March 4, three weeks after turning 93, and he'd spent 86 of those years working a bow. What with his concert debut at age 10, this son of a pianist mother and cellist father – émigrés from France – logged more than fourscore years as a violinist in concert halls, theatres, and salons. That alone would be cause to honor Rudié, but he did so much more worth remembering: as an educator, as a conductor, as an actor, as an advocate for chamber music in homes and schools.

He first arrived in Austin in 1981 as a visiting professor of violin at the University of Texas. By then, Rudié had packed a lot into his life: graduating with honors from Juilliard; playing violin with the NBC Symphony Orchestra; performing at the Casals Festivals in Europe and Puerto Rico; touring extensively across North America with his own ensemble, the Rudié Sinfonietta; directing the music program at Riverdale Country School; playing with the Riverdale String Quartet; serving as concertmaster for numerous orchestras, including the New York City Ballet, American Symphony Orchestra, and the Aspen Festival; teaching at the Harlem School of the Arts, Music Conservatory of Westchester, and Vassar College; and creating a solo stage show about Nicolò Paganini, which led to him portray the legendary violin virtuoso in two episodes of Steve Allen's Emmy Award-winning PBS series, Meeting of Minds.

Rudié stayed at UT just two years, but he made Austin his home after meeting pianist and composer Kathryn Mishell here, and he stayed as busy here as he had everywhere else. He spent 10 years as assistant concertmaster of the Austin Symphony Orchestra; launched the city's first series of professional chamber music concerts in private homes; founded Salon Concerts to further that activity; founded Chamber Music in Public Schools, or CHAMPS, to provide free in-school coaching for students playing chamber music; and renewed his boyhood love of acting, playing everyone from Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore to Polonius to Scrooge on stages all across town, while also mounting several runs of Paganini! and his other solo show, Heroes & Lovers. He was well into his 10th decade before he stopped performing, teaching, and spreading his gospel of chamber music to students.

The day Rudié passed, a concert featuring jazz and blues musician Chris Brubeck was held to benefit CHAMPS – a sad coincidence and yet also a symbolic fulfillment of Rudié's desire for the program to outlast him. In line with that wish, the family requests that gifts in Robert Rudié's memory be made to CHAMPS through Salon Concerts Inc., P.O. Box 163501, Austin, TX, 78716, or at www.salonconcerts.org. A memorial celebration will be held Thursday, April 5, 8pm, in the community hall of the Dell Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Robert Rudié
Arts Review
Salon Concerts 20th Anniversary Season Opener
This concert's three virtuosi showed us why nothing trumps a live music experience

Michael Kellerman, Oct. 23, 2009

More by Robert Faires
July Is Crime Month: The Crime Blotter, Week 3
July Is Crime Month: The Crime Blotter, Week 3
A curated guide to unlawful activities around town July 15-21

July 15, 2019

Divine Desires
Immortal Longings at Zach Theatre
In this new play by Terrence McNally, Diaghilev and Nijinsky seek revolution and godhood in the 20th century

July 12, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Robert Rudié, Robert Rudie, Kathryn Mishell, Salon Concerts, Chamber Music in Public Schools, CHAMPS, Paganini!

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle