Is opera conductor Alexander Joel the brother of Billy Joel, yes or no?
Following his success with his premiere of Frau ohne Schatten at the Vlaamse Opera, Alexander Joel has been invited to conduct the revival of La Boheme at Covent Garden in February 2013, as well as a premiere of Tosca at the Israeli Opera in 2014. Highlights in 2011/2012 included a premiere of Forza del Destino with Michael Thalheimer again at the Vlaamse opera, and premieres of Tristan and Isolde, Luisa Miller, Nozze di Figaro and Turandot at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, as well as revivals of Rigoletto and la Traviata at the Semper Oper Dresden, Don Carlos at the Staatsoper Hamburg and Tosca at the Deutsche oper Berlin. He was also covering a large concert repertoire, including such works as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Mahler´s 2nd Symphony. In 2012/2013, he will also conduct new productions of Madama Butterfly at the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Grand Theatre de Genève. In 2013/2014, he will conduct new productions of Macbeth at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen, Otello in Santiago di Chile.
In 1990, Alexander Joel began studying piano (and later also composition) at the Vienna Academy of Music, before starting his conducting studies in 1991 at the Vienna Conservatory of Music (under Prof. Mark and Prof. Schwarz), where he graduated with Honours in 1996. He was prize winner at European Conducting Competition in Spoleto (Italy) that same year. During his studies, he attended numerous master-classes (including the 1996 conducting master-classes in Tanglewood). After his studies, he worked as an assistant to Julius Rudel, Muhai Tang (Royal Opera Stockholm) and Gustav Kuhn.
Alexander Joel was first Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from the 2001/02 season till the 2006/2007 season, where he conducted a very large repertoire of over 35 different operas as well as 9 premieres. At the age of 24 he gave his debut at the Opera in Nürnberg and his first steady engagements led him to Kapellmeister positions at the Stadttheater Baden, the Stadttheater Klagenfurt and at the Wiener Volksoper.
Alexander Joel also regularly conducts numerous renowned orchestras on the concert podium, including such orchestras as the DSO Berlin, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, the Duisburger Philharmoniker the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Gürzenich Orchester Köln, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, RSO Wien, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Orchestre de Nancy. He has worked with prominent stage-directors such as Nicolas Joel, Marco Arturo Marelli, Peter Konwitschny and Keith Warner as well as soloists such as Yuri Bashmet, Julian Rachlin, Mischa Maisky, Rudolf Buchbinder, and Sabine Meyer, and Singers such as Juan Diego Florez, Sir Thomas Allen, Samuel Ramey, Violetta Urmana, Diana Damrau or Catherine Malfitano.
Alexander Joel has been guesting regularly in opera houses such as the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich (where he conducted Entführung aus dem Serail and Fledermaus for three seasons in a row), at the Finnish National Opera Helsinki, the Teatro Regio di Parma, the Vlaamse Opera, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Hamburgische Staatsoper, the Tokyo New National Theatre, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Hamburg Staatsoper, the Opera in Cologne, the Teatro Municipal di Santiago di Chile and the Semper Oper Dresden. Alexander Joel has been Generalmusikdirektor at the Staatstheater Braunschweig since the 2007/2008 Season.
All this information is available on his own website http://alexanderjoel.com/. I’m very surprised that nowhere is mentioned that he’d be the brother of the American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. Billy Joel, as we all know (or at least we should) had a classical training himself. Not only rumour has it that “Uptown Girl” is composed on a theme by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but recently I came across a CD with classical sonatas for solo pianist, written by Joel. Maybe Alexander got tired by being “harassed” in interviews about his brother. But on the other hand, it is obvious that he made his career almost exclusively in Europe, where he also seems to have studied. But then again, on his website nothing is to be found regarding the years preceding his piano studies in Vienna. No date or place of birth or anything… So please enlighten me!