Composer Dr Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, South Africa

Dr Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph was a young virtuoso pianist who studied with Goldie Zaidel, Philip Levy, Adolph Hallis, and later with John Lill at the Royal College of Music in London. Her B.Mus and M.Mus degrees were both awarded with distinction and in 1979, under Prof Stefans Grové, she became the first woman in South Africa to obtain a Doctorate in Music Composition (1979). She later received an honorary Doctorate in Education (2008). She has also been awarded the following Piano Performer’s Licentiates, all with distinction: LTCL (1969); LRSM (1969); FTCL (1970); UPLM (1971).

In 1974 she studied composition under the legendary composer György Ligeti in Hamburg, Germany. On her return to South Africa in 1975, she was appointed as Lecturer at the Wits School of Music and held the position of Professor of Theory and Composition from 2001 till her retirement in 2014. She is presently Honorary Research Professor and Professor Emeritus in the Wits School of Arts. She achieved the highest evaluations for her lecturing in the Music Division at Wits.

She has frequently been invited to be guest composer and lecturer at festivals in Europe and the USA, specialising in presentations on women’s music as well as indigenous African music and its influence on intercultural music by South African composers. In April 1995 she was Guest Composer at a festival in OHIO, USA where many of her works were performed to high acclaim, including Suite Afrique for viola and piano, with the composer at the piano.

Zaidel-Rudolph has also made a tremendous contribution to Jewish music in Johannesburg as pianist, musical director, composer and arranger for the hugely successful show Celebration, which was premiered in Johannesburg in (1994). Subsequently, since 2000, Celebration has been performed to great acclaim in the USA, Canada, London and Australia.

I absolutely loved Lia’s Diabelli project as it gave me as a composer the opportunity to explore my creativity with an existing music model based on a wonderful composer. After all, most original compositions use ‘variation form’ as a technique for producing new music.

Dr. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph

Zaidel-Rudolph has served as an adjudicator for many composition competitions and piano festivals. She presently serves as a Director on the Boards of SAMRO (South African Music Rights Organisation) and The SAMRO Foundation.

In 2012, she was awarded an NRF Research Grant in the Music Division at Wits University for 6 years for creative and conventional research. She acquired the title of Professor Emeritus at Wits University in 2014. 

Jeanne is married to Prof Michael Rudolph and they have five daughters and fifteen grandchildren.