1989 Swan Award Winner: Rudy Saltzer


salzerRudy Saltzer describes himself as a conductor, violinist, lecturer, singer, and crippled piano player: one of the keyboard challenged. He was born in Los Angeles, a small town in southern California in 1922, the year of his birth. Rudy was introduced to music at the age of five, when he started lessons on a 1/4-size violin.

After two years of college interrupted his education, he joined the Navy in WW II, and mastered the use and maintenance of an exotic secret weapon ~ Radar ~ at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. He loved San Francisco and vowed to one day make his home in the Bay Area. Upon graduation, he was deployed to the Pacific and served on a specialized tanker for three years. Late in the war, he received his officer’s commission, whereupon the Japanese surrendered.

He returned home to complete his studies at UCLA. After graduation he performed as a professional violinist and taught choral music in high schools and junior college. Concurrently, his appointment as assistant conductor of the Roger Wagner Chorale launched his professional choral conducting career. He later formed his own ensemble, which performed in the renowned Monday Evening Concert Series with Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, as well as in theater, movies and TV.

Rudy earned his Doctorate in music from the USC School of Music, cum laude, and taught at Cal State Hayward, thus enabling him to keep his vow to return to the Bay Area, his home ever since. He was Professor Emeritus at Cal State East Bay until he passed away in April 2015.

He has conducted and lectured as a guest professor at more than a dozen colleges and universities, including Arizona State at Tempe, Brigham Young University, St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, Roosevelt University in Chicago, U.C. Berkeley, and the Fromm Institute at USF.