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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.