News / Arts & Entertainment

Classical Music World Mourns Conductor Lorin Maazel

FILE - Maestro Lorin Maazel conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during the main rehearsal for the annual New Years Concert, Dec. 30, 1998.
FILE - Maestro Lorin Maazel conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during the main rehearsal for the annual New Years Concert, Dec. 30, 1998.
Reuters

Tributes poured in from the classical music world on Monday for Lorin Maazel, considered one of the most brilliant conductors of his generation, who died Sunday in rural Rappahannock County, Virginia at the age of 84.

A child prodigy who later directed the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic among others, Maazel died at his home from complications of pneumonia.

The Berlin Philharmonic, which he conducted regularly and had been due to conduct again in June, wrote on its website: "We are very sad that this reunion is no longer possible. We will remember Lorin Maazel as a great conductor, and we have grateful, lively memories of him as a master of energetic music-making with a timbral sensuality."

Maazel was born in Paris in 1930 to American parents of Russian origin, learned to play the piano and violin, and conducted orchestras including the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the Idaho Orchestra before he was a teenager.

His sharp ear for mistakes earned him the respect of older musicians and he combined an acclaimed baton technique with a memory that meant he rarely used scores.

Remembering Lorin Maazel
Remembering Lorin Maazeli
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Associated with most of the world's great orchestras, Maazel's hundreds of recordings included the cycles of the Beethoven, Mahler and Sibelius symphonies. He was the first American to become general manager and artistic director of the Vienna State Opera, in 1982, but fell out with the then culture minister and left after two years.

Current opera director Dominique Meyer said in a statement late on Sunday: "Lorin Maazil's death is for us a great artistic and human loss. We are however thankful for the many impressions which he left behind, and which will stay with us."

Among the many orchestras Maazel conducted was the Pittsburgh Symphony, where he was music director from 1988 to 1996.

“The most astonishing thing about Mr. Maazel was his prodigious memory," said Kirk Muspratt, who was a resident conductor at the symphony, working under Maazel. "I remember even when I was a student in Vienna, I went to see ‘Carmen’ one night, and there was an announcement that the conductor who was supposed to conduct ‘Carmen’ had taken very, very ill, and they took him to the hospital. Mr. Maazel was the music director of the opera at the time in Vienna. They called him, and he said, ‘Oh, no problem, I’ll just put my shoes on and come over and conduct.’ Fifteen minutes later he was there in a grey leisure suit conducting ‘Carmen,’ from memory.”

In 2008, Maazel took the New York Philharmonic to perform in North Korea in a concert aimed at opening a door to one of the world's most isolated countries.

The concert proved controversial. Though the U.S. State Department encouraged the Philharmonic’s trip to Pyongyang, many pundits criticized the concert as giving credibility to North Korea’s repressive regime.

Maazel responded to his critics, writing in the Wall Street Journal that “Artists have a broader role to play in the public arena. But it must be totally apolitical, nonpartisan and free of issue-specific agendas.” The goal, he wrote, was to bring “peoples and their cultures together on common ground.”

An audience of North Korea's communist elite gave the orchestra a standing ovation after a rousing set that included Dvorak, Gershwin and a Korean folk song. Some of the musicians were so overcome they left the stage in tears.

"Little did we know that we would be thrown into orbit by this stunning, stunning reaction," Maazel said after the performance.

The U.S. and North Korean flags hang at the side of the stage and the audience stands while Music Director Lorin Maazel conducts the New York Philharmonic playing the U.S. national anthem before the start of their concert at the Grand Theatre in the Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 26, 2008.
The U.S. and North Korean flags hang at the side of the stage and the audience stands while Music Director Lorin Maazel conducts the New York Philharmonic playing the U.S. national anthem before the start of their concert at the Grand Theatre in the Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 26, 2008.

In 2009, Maazel founded the Castleton Festival, an annual summer event on his Virginia farm, where he held performances and training seminars.  The festival gave promising young musicians the opportunity to perform in high-level productions, and learn from famous artists. Maazel was the lead tutor, teaching conducting, coaching singers and instrumentalists, and leading performances with his baton.

He had been rehearsing and preparing for the festival when he died on Sunday.

Maazel is survived by his wife Dietlinde Turban-Maazel and their two sons and a daughter, three daughters and a son from previous marriages, and four grandchildren.

VOA's Eric Felten contributed to this report.  

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once for his work with The Hollies and once as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The legendary folk-rocker joins "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his latest project, “CSN 2012,” which captured on video recent live performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash.