Walter Hendl’s daughter served NY City Ballet for 50 years

Walter Hendl’s daughter served NY City Ballet for 50 years


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2020

The ballet has announced the death of Susan Hendl, who joined as a dancer in 1965 and, as ballet master, became the trusted repository of the legacies of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She was 73.

Her father Walter Hendl, who died in 2007, was music director of the Dallas Symphony and artistic director at Ravinia.


  • HermanntheGerman says:

    When I lived in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1983/84, Walter Hendl was the music director of the Erie Philharmonic. I went to some concerts led by him at the Warner Theater in Erie, PA.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    A distinguished fifty career, and at death her identity comes through a male relative.

  • Pedro says:

    Hendl’s father conducted my favourite recording of the Sibelius violin concerto, with Heifetz on RCA.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Supposedly Fritz Reiner was ill for the Sibelius sessions. He (Hendl) also conducted Heifetz’s recording of the Glazunov Concerto and the Miklós Rózsa violin concerto, as well as Gary Graffman’s recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and much else besides.

      Not being a ballet aficionado, I had never heard of Susan. Still I agree with the others (above) that while the fact that Walter Hendl was her father is interesting and should certainly be mentioned in an obituary or death notice, her career was distinguished enough that the headline should have been other than for “Walther Hendl’s daughter.”

      • MacroV says:

        Yes, but this is a music site that doesn’t usually note the passing of persons in the dance world. Being the daughter of a well-known musician is probably the reason she is mentioned here at all.

        • Bill says:

          Who ever heard of having music at a ballet?

          We talk about opera singers and piano teachers with wandering hands here, so clearly musical talent isn’t always required!

  • GD says:

    Since this is a classical music blog, would her passing merit an entry if her father was not a conductor?

    Her ballet career is certainly distinguished enough to stand on its own. But if it weren’t for her father, I probably wouldn’t have known about it. Norman wouldn’t have posted it. I’m glad he did.

    If the headline of a ballet blog defined her identity through a male relative….sure, point taken.

    And that belittling description: “male relative.” Some distant cousin, perhaps? No. It was her father.

    I suspect if Ms. Hendl were the daughter of a distinguished woman in classical music, the headline would still be “X’s Daughter Served NY City Ballet…” Would anyone point out that her identity was defined through a “female relative”?

  • fliszt says:

    This is an appropriate occasion to honor the memory of Walter Hendl – a Koussevitzky pupil at the Berkshire Music Center (same class as Bernstein and Lukas Foss), whose promising career was ultimately stymied by alcohol. With Chicago Symphony he recorded with Heifetz and Cliburn for RCA. He was director of the Eastman School of Music (1964-1972), the Chautauqua Festival Symphony 1953-1972, Associate Conductor NY Philharmonic 1945-1949, among other prestigious posts. An enormously gifted man, who persevered as best he could despite his health problems.

  • Patti Sullivan says:

    I remember Susie when she would come to Erie to visit her father Walter and Barbara. Kind and very talented and smart. What wonderful memories we had. I had the Gift of working with Maestro Hendl. One which I will never forget.
    Patti Sullivan