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Kurt Herbert Adler


Born: April 2, 1905; Vienna, Austria   Died: February 9, 1988; Ross, CA  
Making most of his career in the United States, Kurt Herbert Adler was a fine conductor and outstanding opera administrator who took the San Francisco Opera from regional status to become one of the notable international opera houses.

He received his education at the University of Vienna while pursuing musical studies at the Vienna Musikakademie and the Vienna Conservatory. At the age of twenty he joined the staff of the Max Reinhardt
Read more Theater in Vienna, making his conducting debut there in 1925. He conducted at the Vienna Volkstheater and, following the typical Germanic conductor's career path, worked at a variety of provincial houses in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, moving progressively into more important houses and more important positions. In 1936, Adler was chosen to be assistant to Arturo Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival. However, by that time, the obvious interest of the neighboring Nazi German regime to take over Austria, its Führer's birth-country, made it prudent for Adler to consider leaving this developing career for the safety of the United States.

From 1938 to 1943, he was a guest conductor at the Chicago Opera. In 1943, he was hired by Gaetano Merola, founder and director of the San Francisco Opera, to a permanent position as chorus master, soon becoming a staff conductor.

In 1953, Merola died and Adler was appointed artistic director of the company, and in 1957, his position was elevated to that of general director. Under his leadership, the San Francisco ambitiously hired leading international stars. Adler had a talent for spotting rising singers of star quality, and the San Francisco Opera became the first American house to engage such leading singers as Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Hans Hotter, Boris Christoff, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and conductor Sir Georg Solti.

He added several programs both to develop wider audiences (such as the Brown Bag Opera, instituted in 1974, and the spring and summer opera programs) and to develop new opera artists (for instance, the San Francisco Opera Audition in 1954, the Merola Opera Program in 1957, and the San Francisco Opera Affiliate Artists program).

In addition, he doubled the length of the regular season and expanded the budget. He continued to conduct, but spent most of his time in administrative tasks. He also made the repertory of the company more adventuresome, giving one of the earliest performances of Shostakovich's revised opera Katerina Ismailova and the first major American staging of Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten. In all, the company under his administration gave two world premieres and eighteen first American performances.

Adler retired in 1981 and was named general director emeritus.

After his death, the San Francisco Opera Affiliate Artists program was renamed the Adler Fellowship Program. It seeks out promising developing young singers and hires them on an eleven-month contract during which they receiving coaching and further voice training from internationally esteemed artists (mostly star singers who have sung frequently with the company). This training is pointed towards professional performances in the spring opera season and in the main opera season. Among the international star singers who have been in the Adler Fellowship Program or its predecessor are Carol Vaness, Ruth Ann Swenson, Nancy Gustafson, Deborah Voigt, Dolora Zajick, and Brian Asawa. Read less
Browse 1-23 of 23 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Christmas with Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002577002 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Adolphe Adam,  Alessandro Stradella,  César Franck,  Saverio Mercadante  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Placido Domingo,  José Carreras,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Steven Mercurio,  Piero Gamba,  István Kertész  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Christmas 101
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002507302 Release Date: 09/23/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Traditional,  John Francis Wade,  William James Kirkpatrick  ... 
    Performer:  Sir Andrew Davis,  Simon Preston,  Harvey Alan,  David Corkhill  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  John Rutter,  Sir Neville Marriner,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    The 50 Greatest Tracks / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922802 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Malcolm King,  Robert [Bass Vocal] Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Edward Downes  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 4.
    Renata Scotto and Placido Domingo Sing Romantic Opera Duets
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 195839 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni
    Performer:  Renata Scotto,  Placido Domingo
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler
    CD: $6.99
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  • 5.
    The Three Tenors At Christmas / Carreras, Pavarotti, Domingo
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001170002 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  John Francis Wade,  Pietro Mascagni,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Placido Domingo,  Michael G. Gormley,  José Carreras  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Uwe Christian Harrer,  Marcello Viotti,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Voices  ... 
    CD: $15.99
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  • 6.
    Pavarotti: The Studio Albums
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001001702 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Friedrich v. Flotow  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Alberto Mantovani,  Andrea Griminelli,  Alberto Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Downes,  Herbert von Karajan,  Leone Magiera,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    CD: $148.49
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  • 7.
    Pavarotti Forever / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001017002 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Teodoro Cottrau,  Tommaso Giordani,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  David Romano,  Frank Sinatra,  Andrea Bocelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Emerson Buckley,  Piero Gamba,  James Levine,  Oliviero de Fabritiis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 8.
    Wagner, Verdi, Beethoven, Etc / Borkh, Giulini, Welitsch
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 714061 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Inge Borkh,  Otto van Rohr,  Otto Wiener,  Christo Bajew  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Rother,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Jean Fournet,  Hans Müller-Kray  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 9.
    A Christmas Nativity
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000538902 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gloria Shayne Baker,  Michael Praetorius,  William James Kirkpatrick,  Lewis H. Redner  ... 
    Performer:  Anthony Way,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Malcolm Martineau,  Bryn Terfel  ... 
    Conductor:  John Scott,  Richard Westenburg,  Richard Bonynge,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Paul's Cathedral Choir,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Trapp Family Singers  ... 
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  • 10.
    O Holy Night [Special Edition] / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000530102 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Franz Schubert,  Guida  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti
    Conductor:  István Kertész,  Leone Magiera,  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Piccolo Coro dell'Antoniano  ... 
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 11.
    The Ultimate Relaxation Christmas Album Ii
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000535502 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Pierpont,  Franz Schubert,  César Franck,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Stephen Cleobury,  Stephen Goss  ... 
    Conductor:  Annuncio Paolo Mantovani,  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Barry Rose,  George Guest  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Annunzio Paolo Mantovani Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    San Francisco Opera Gems Volume 2 / Merola, Et Al
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2287/89 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Richard Strauss,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Eleanor Steber,  Alessio De Paolis,  John Garris,  Mack Harrell  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Sebastian,  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Gaetano Merola
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Chorus
    CD: $19.99
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  • 13.
    The # 1 Puccini Album
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000300702 Release Date: 08/10/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Mario Del Monaco,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Franco Capuana,  Herbert von Karajan,  Zubin Mehta,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 14.
    The Essential Wedding Collection
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000233302 Release Date: 05/11/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Andrew Wright,  Francis Lai,  Bryan Adams,  Giorgio Moroder  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Peter Hurford,  Richard Farnes,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Conductor:  Nick Ingman,  Michael Kamen,  Julius Rudel,  Wyn Morris  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Utah Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 15.
    Puccini: Opera Arias / Pavarotti, Freni, Sutherland, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000122702 Release Date: 10/14/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Bruno Prevedi,  Leona Mitchell,  Virginia Zeani,  Michel Sénéchal  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Downes,  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Franco Patanč,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $9.95
    CD: $7.99
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  • 16.
    Rapture - Opera's Most Heavenly Moments
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471717 Release Date: 10/08/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Georges Bizet,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Teresa Berganza,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Richard Bonynge,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 17.
    The Voice of Italy / Pavarotti, Freni, di Stefano...
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470829 Release Date: 04/09/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Umberto Giordano,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Manuel Ausensi,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Giuseppe Di Stefano  ... 
    Conductor:  Silvio Varviso,  Leone Magiera,  Piero Gamba,  Franco Patanč  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Rossini Orchestra,  Vienna Volksoper Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $17.98
    CD: $13.99
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  • 18.
    Christmas Adagios / Karajan, Pavarotti, Gheorghiu, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 468503 Release Date: 10/09/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Harold Edwin Darke,  Traditional,  William James Kirkpatrick  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Ian Bostridge,  Rosemary Joshua,  Mark Tinkler  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir David Willcocks,  George Guest  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $17.98
    CD: $15.99
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  • 19.
    The #1 Christmas Album / Domingo, Pavarotti, Price, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470022 Release Date: 10/09/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Jester Hairston,  Emil Waldteufel,  Irving Berlin  ... 
    Performer:  James Lancelot,  Placido Domingo,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Carl Davis,  Douglas Gamley,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester Cathedral Choir,  English Chamber Orchestra,  London Voices  ... 
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 20.
    Christmas Ŕ La Carte / Bartoli, Domingo, Mutter, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 459155 Release Date: 10/12/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Gabriel Fauré,  Saverio Mercadante,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Battle,  Placido Domingo,  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Simon Preston,  Neeme Järvi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $17.99
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  • 21.
    George London - Of Gods And Demons
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 62758 Release Date: 01/14/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Rubinstein,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Louis Gruenberg,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  George London
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Rudolf Moralt,  Jean Paul Morel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    The Magic Of Christmas / Te Kanawa, Pavarotti, Price, Von Stade
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443401 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alois Melichar,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Charles Gounod,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  James Blades,  John Scott,  David Corkhill  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Sir David Willcocks,  Julius Rudel,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bach Choir,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble members  ... 
    On sale! $17.99
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  • 23.
    Gala Concert at Royal Albert Hall / Luciano Pavarotti
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 430716 Release Date: 06/14/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Francesco Cilča  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $11.99
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