Honouring Sir Rudolf Bing

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Today, as part of their 75th anniversary celebrations, the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) will be unveiling a special commemorative plaque in honour of Sir Rudolf Bing at Glyndebourne.

Photo: Sam Stephenson

Sir Rudolf was General Manager at Glyndebourne between 1936 and 1949. Born in 1902 in Vienna, Sir Rudolf studied music and art history at the University of Vienna before relocating to Berlin in 1927. In 1928 he became assistant to Carl Ebert, the newly appointed Intendant of the Hessian State Theatre, Darmstadt. It was here Bing learned his trade as an administrator.

Photo: Glyndebourne Archive

In February 1934, at the request of fellow émigré Fritz Busch, Bing negotiated the contracts for European singers to perform at Glyndebourne before arriving there himself in the summer of 1934. He fulfilled the same job a year later when he also worked at the Festival as an assistant producer. In 1936 he took over as General Manager, a job he held until 1939 when Glyndebourne closed due to the outbreak of WWII. In 1944 Bing opened a new Glyndebourne office in London and began planning for the reopening of the Festival after the war.

In his memoir, A Slim Volume, Sir George Christie wrote:

‘Busch and Ebert brought their power of persuasion into play in engaging Rudolf Bing as General Manager – a real coup for Glyndebourne, as he was one of the most outstanding entrepreneurs in the operatic world at the time.”

Sir George later explains:

“… the alchemy of the Busch, Ebert and Bing mixture combined with the feed-in from my parents gave Glyndebourne a kick-start which has had lasting effect.’

Photo: Sam Stephenson

Following WWII, John Christie faced the major challenge of how to continue funding his enterprise at Glyndebourne. In 1947 Glyndebourne founded the Edinburgh Festival with Bing in charge of the content, from planning to materialisation.

Glyndebourne administered the Edinburgh Festival from 1947 to 1949 (inclusive), when Bing resigned his position as General Manager of Glyndebourne and Edinburgh to go to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a post he held for 22 years.

Bing became a British subject in 1946, a year before founding the Edinburgh International Festival. He was knighted in 1971 and died in September 1997, aged 95 in New York.

The Blue Plaque is positioned on the wall near the mulberry tree (opposite the Organ Room).

Photo: Sam Stephenson

Founded in July 1941, the AJR represents and supports Jewish victims of Nazi oppression who rebuilt their lives in Britain. Alongside social and welfare services AJR are committed to perpetuating the legacy of the refugees and are prominent supporters of several leading institutions engaged in Holocaust memorialisation in the UK.