John Mauceri

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John Mauceri
Born (1945-09-12) September 12, 1945 (age 69)

John Francis Mauceri (born September 12, 1945, New York) is a world-renowned conductor, producer, educator and writer. Since making his professional conducting debut almost half a century ago, Mauceri has appeared with most of the world's great orchestras, guest conducted at the premiere opera houses, produced and musically supervised Tony and Olivier winning Broadway musicals, and taught at the most prestigious halls of academia. Additionally, he has taken the lead in the preservation and performance of many genres of music and has supervised/conducted important premieres by composers as diverse as Debussy, Stockhausen, Korngold, Hindemith, Bernstein, Sibelius, Ives, Elfman, and Shore. He is a leading performer of music banned by the Third Reich and especially music of Hollywood’s émigré composers.

Early Career[edit]

John Mauceri studied Music Theory and Composition at Yale University where he won the Wrexham Prize for highest musical achievement and the Francis Vernan Prize for composition before earning a BA in 1967 and a Masters of Philosophy in Music Theory in 1972. While in New Haven, Mauceri led the Yale Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1974. During his tenure with the YSO he conducted the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" in Vienna and the first performance of Charles Ives' "Three Places in New England" in its original large orchestra version. In 1973 Mauceri made both his professional orchestral debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and his operatic debut conducting Menotti's "The Saint of Bleecker Street" at the Wolf Trap Festival. [1]

Work in Musical Theatre[edit]

John Mauceri made his Broadway debut on March 10, 1974 as music director of Hal Prince's production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, which had begun as a limited run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This version of the show was given a Special Tony Award for "The Advancement of the American Musical Theatre." [2] He subsequently served as music director for the "Opera House" version of the show (providing additional orchestrations and supervising the placement of the music within the text of Hugh Wheeler's book) that premiered at the New York City Opera in 1982. It's 1986 recording won Mauceri a Grammy for "Best Opera Recording." [3] In 1988, as Music Director of Scottish Opera, Mauceri initiated a third version based on a reading of Voltaire adapted by John Wells and directed by Jonathan Miller. Mauceri was able to make use of virtually all the music Bernstein had composed for various versions of Candide between 1956 and 1971. This final version had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow with Bernstein in attendance, and broadcast on BBC television.[4] It was transferred to the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London where it won the 1988 Olivier Award as "Musical of the Year." Bernstein subsequently recorded this version in London, and it won him a posthumous Grammy for "Best Classical Album" of 1990. [5]

Mauceri took a leadership role in reevaluating the American Musical Theater in his historically informed performances and recordings of classic American musicals, such as the Gershwins’ 1930 score to Girl Crazy (Elektra Nonesuch 9 79250-2) in 1990 (winner of the Edison Klassiek Award), both the 1927 and 1930 versions of the Gershwins’ Strike Up the Band (1991 – Elektra Nonesuch 79273-2 and PS Classics PS-1100 respectively) and most importantly On Your Toes (1936) by Rodgers & Hart which he initiated and co-produced in 1983. Mauceri, representing the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, hired George Abbott (then 96 years old), George Balanchine (his last assignment) and found the original orchestrator, Hans Spialek, to restore the score. On Your Toes ran 505 performances on Broadway and marked the first time a musical from the 1930s was seen and heard on Broadway with its original musical elements intact in over a generation. Its cast album, conducted by Mauceri, is the first fully digital Broadway cast album (TER Limited: CDTER 1063). The show was nominated for five Antoinette Perry (“Tony”) Awards and won two: for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Natalia Makarova). In addition, On Your Toes won four Drama Desk Awards (Outstanding Revival; Outstanding Actress in a Musical; Outstanding Director of a Musical; Outstanding Orchestrations).[6] As a result of its success, the received wisdom of rewriting old musicals and adding new orchestrations and hit songs from other shows was challenged and has led to a proliferation of organizations that present classic American musicals with their original scores restored as written, though these performances are generally in a semi-staged format.

Mauceri led the charge in reassessing the American works of Kurt Weill, which had been generally viewed as inferior to his German works. In 1978, he conducted Weill’s 1947 opera, Street Scene at the New York City Opera, which was so successful, it was broadcast in the subsequent season on PBS’ “Live from Lincoln Center.” Beginning with Weill’s Lady in the Dark at the Edinburgh Festival in 1988, and followed by the first professional production of Street Scene in the UK (“Sugaring the Pill: Kurt Weill on Broadway,” Opera Magazine, May, 1989), Mauceri argued that the American works were equal to and continued directly out of the German works. His recording of Street Scene (Decca 433 371-2) released in 1991 is the first complete recording of any American theater work of Kurt Weill. Mauceri brought Street Scene for its country premieres in Portugal (Lisbon Opera), and Italy (Teatro Regio, Turin). In addition, he brought Weill’s music back to Berlin, where it had been mostly forgotten. Two recordings with Ute Lemper (“Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill” Volumes 1 and 2) represented Weill’s music with texts in German, French and English, demonstrating the composer’s continuity of style and idea. In addition, his Berlin recordings include Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins (die Siebentodsünden) with Lemper, the “Little Mahagonny” (Mahagonny Songspiel) and the first German language recording of The Threepenny Opera (die Dreigroschenoper) made in over forty years (Decca 430 075-2 LH) released in 1989. In 2000, he led a series of performances of Kurt Weill’s 1933 bible play, The Eternal Road (der Weg der Verheissung) in which he and musicologist Ed Harsh restored the complete score which had never been heard with its complete fourth act and never in Europe. These performances were co-productions of the New Israeli Opera, The Chemnitz (Germany) Opera and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The work was performed in its original German text by fellow refugee Franz Werfel and televised in Europe from its Chemnitz performances. In 2001, Mauceri led the world premiere recording of Weill’s early operatic success, der Protagonist from 1926 (Capriccio 60 086) which was also broadcast on German Radio in a concert performance in Berlin’s Philharmonie.

Work in Opera[edit]

After making his operatic debut at the Wolf Trap Festival in 1973, Mauceri continued to build his operatic repertoire conducting at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera House, the Deutsche Oper, and numerous others around the world.[7] At San Francisco Opera he conducted the premiere of Imbrie's "Angle of Repose" in 1976.[8] At Washington Opera and La Scala Mauceri had the privilege of conducting the American and European premiere's of Leonard Bernstein's "A Quiet Place" in 1984. Mauceri worked closely with Mr. Bernstein for eighteen years conducting many of the composer's premieres at Bernstein's request. In addition to his guest appearances at the world's great opera houses, Maestro Mauceri also served as music director of the Washington Opera (The Kennedy Center) as well as Pittsburgh Opera, and was direttore stabile of the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy for three years. This was after completing seven years (22 productions and three recordings) as music director of Scottish Opera. Mauceri is the first American ever to have held the post of music director of an opera house in either Great Britain or Italy. [9] Mauceri's reputation '"as a musicologist and theorist," was solidified as he was "the first to demonstrate, in print and in performance, that the use of metronomic tempos were a structural element in the operas of Giuseppe Verdi." [10] He has spoken about and written many articles expounding his fidelity to the composer's intent and the necessity of fully understanding it in performance.

Time at the Hollywood Bowl[edit]

After forty years of dormancy the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was re-created for John Mauceri by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association in 1991. "During his sixteen-season tenure, Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra toured Japan four times and, in November 1996, performed two public concerts in Rio de Janeiro and Saõ Paulo, Brazil, representing the first time an American orchestra was invited to Brazil specifically to perform the great music of the American cinema." [11] Breaking all records at the Bowl, he conducted over 300 concerts at the 18,000-seat amphitheater with a total audience of four million people. [12] In addition to being inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame along side Placido Domingo in 2007, Mauceri received a Treasure of Los Angeles Award, a Young Musicians Foundation Award, and even his own day, "John Mauceri Day" by the state of California. [13]

Work in Academia[edit]

Mauceri was appointed chancellor of the (University of) North Carolina School of the Arts by President Erskine Bowles on May 2, 1006. During his seven year tenure he lobbied and secured to have “University” added to the school’s name to distinguish it from the growing number of arts magnet high schools and to affirm the school’s relationship with the UNC system. He implemented a two-semester calendar and conceived and implemented the school’s first full summer school. Under his leadership the school’s retention within the system ranked second only to UNC Chapel Hill. Mauceri increased UNCSA’s endowment by 60% and successfully lobbied the NC General Assembly to grant recurring millions of dollars of appropriations to the school and secured significant private funds during the economic downturn that threatened the very existence of the school. At the time of his retirement from the post the school had $55 million worth of capital projects in the works, including a new library, and a film school animation building.[14] For the first time in the school’s history, the faculty agreed to having a ranking system, Kiplinger’s ranked the school for the first time in its history as one of the “100 top Values in Public Education,” and Mauceri raised the monies to support a television series of student performances which he also produced. These included The Nutcracker, a complete restoration of the original 1943 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (winner of a National Educational Television Award), and the American premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score in a fully-staged production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (regional Emmy for Best Arts Program, 2013).[15] As chancellor, Mauceri brought his students to perform, assist, and observe productions at the Hollywood Bowl, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Danish National Orchestra (Copenhagen), the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the opera of Bilbao, Spain, the Aspen Music Festival, the 50th Anniversary Grammy Award Ceremony, the Ravinia Festival, the Washington National Opera, as well as the opening of the North Carolina Museum of Art and the 2013 Rite at 100 Festival at Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall. Prior to his time at UNCSA, Mauceri served on the faculty of his alma mater, Yale University for 15 years where he "taught orchestration, conducting, gave guest lectures in the German and Italian Departments and, with the Yale Symphony, developed the concept of thematic programming built on his studies of information theory, linguistics, and psychoacoustics." Mauceri left the faculty of Yale in 1982 as Associate Professor, and in 1985 was awarded Yale’s first Arts Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement. He returned for one semester in the spring of 2001 to teach a course on the effects of World War II on contemporary esthetics and conduct both Yale orchestras for the tercentennial of the university. [16]

Mauceri's commercial recordings include George Gershwin's Strike Up The Band, for Nonesuch. In 2006, Mauceri conducted the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a concert performance of Porgy and Bess that featured cuts and other changes that Gershwin himself had made in the opera during rehearsals leading up to its premiere by the Theatre Guild. This performance was released on CD, the first recording of the opera in this version.[17]

In other media, Mauceri had a small role as the character Claude Maginot in 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He appeared briefly as himself in the second episode of the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip TV series, conducting the fictional "West Coast Philharmonic."

Mauceri served as the music director of four opera companies: Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, the Scottish Opera in Glasgow, the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center and the Pittsburgh Opera.  He was also the first music director of the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall after its founding director, Leopold Stokowski, with whom he studied. His other mentors included Carlo Maria Giulini and Leonard Bernstein, with whom he worked for eighteen years.

Mauceri is well known throughout the world as the Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in Los Angeles, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. At the Hollywood Bowl, he conducted over 300 concerts over 16 seasons. He now has the title of founding director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and recently returned to the Bowl Orchestra to make his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.

He was principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra from 1991 to 2006.  He is the Founding Director of the orchestra.  In 2007, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside Plácido Domingo.[18]

Mauceri has conducted most of the world's leading orchestras and opera companies and is one of the world's most accomplished recording artists. He is the recipient of Grammy, Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Edison, two Emmy and four Deutsche Schallplatten awards, among other prestigious recognitions.

Mauceri lives in New York City with his wife, Betty.


Maurice Ravel: Dawn from Daphnis et Chloé, suite No. 2 for orchestra
Edvard Grieg: Morning Mood from Peer Gynt Suite for orchestra
Carl Nielsen: Helios, concert overture, FS 32 (Op. 17)
Claude Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Franz Waxman: Dusk
Richard Wagner: Liebestod
Arnold Schoenberg: Sunrise


  1. ^ Modi, Sorab (1986). The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Macmillan Press Limited. ISBN 0-943818-36-2. 
  2. ^ "Candide (3/10/1974 - 1/04/1976)". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Candide (1982)". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Tumelty, Michael. "Backing Up the Master...". heraldscotland. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Candide". Leonard Bernstein. The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc. 
  6. ^ "On Your Toes (3/06/1983 - 5/20/1984)". Internet Broadway Database. 
  7. ^ "Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame". Hollywood Bowl. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Modi, Sorab. "Mauceri, John". Grove Music Oline. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Commerce of Creativity to Explore World of Music with Conductor John Mauceri". CSUN Today. California State University North Ridge. 
  10. ^ ""Rigoletto" For the 21st Century". Opera Magazine 36 (10): 1135-1144. 1985. 
  11. ^ "Hollywood Bowl Orchestra". Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "John Mauceri". Columbia Artists Music LLC. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  14. ^ Keuffel, Ken. "Mauceri to step down". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Much Ado About Nothing". Korngold Society. 
  17. ^ Mark Kanny (13 May 2006). "Pittsburgh Opera stronger for Mauceri's leadership". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  18. ^ Kuo, Daniel (July 1, 2007). "Music Legends Honored with Style at the Hollywood Bowl's Opening Night". Canyon News. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  19. ^ "John Mauceri" allmusic

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Alexander Gibson
Music Director, Scottish Opera
Succeeded by
Richard Armstrong
Preceded by
(not known)
Music Director, Pittsburgh Opera
Succeeded by
Antony Walker
Preceded by
Principal Conductor, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
Succeeded by
none yet named