Conductor Walter Hendl, who served as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, died on April 10 at age 90, reports the Associated Press.
Hendl headed the Eastman School from 1964 to 1972. The AP quotes school historian Vince Lenti (a former colleague of Hendl's), as saying, "He was not a true academician, but he had a lot of really solid accomplishments here."
Those accomplishments included launching Eastman's FM radio concerts, sending the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble on international tours, and organizing the school's 50th anniversary festival in 1971-72. He also helped develop Eastman's electronic, contemporary and Suzuki music programs and made important faculty appointments.
Born on January 12, 1917, in West New York, New Jersey, Hendl won the New Jersey State Piano Competition in 1936 and entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia the next year. His professional breakthrough came in 1941, when he studied conducting with Serge Koussevitsky at Tanglewood.
Hendl became assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1945. From there he went to Texas to become music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he served for a decade (1949-58). During his tenure the DSO premiered works by Martinu, Villa-Lobos and Virgil Thomson.
After leaving Eastman, Hendl joined the conducting faculty of the Juilliard School in Manhattan and directed the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra from 1976 until his retirement in 1990.
He last appeared in Rochester two years ago, conducting the Eastman Philharmonia in Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.