Lorin Maazel

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Lorin Maazel

Lorin Varencove Maazel (March 6, 1930 – July 13, 2014) was an American conductor, violinist and composer. Making his debut at the conducting podium at the age of eight, he embarked on his career in earnest in 1953, establishing a reputation in European concert halls by 1960 but, by comparison, his career in the U.S. progressed far more slowly. However, he would later be appointed music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic (NYP), among other posts. Maazel was well-regarded in baton technique and possessed a photographic memory for scores. Described as mercurial and forbidding in rehearsal, he mellowed in old age.[1]

Early life[edit]

Maazel was born to Jewish American parents of Russian origin in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and brought up in the United States, primarily at his parents' home in the city of Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.[2] His father, Lincoln Maazel (1903–2009),[3] was a singer, teacher of voice and piano, and an actor (he co-starred in George A. Romero's 1977 horror movie Martin); and his mother, Marion "Marie" Shulman Maazel (1894–1992),[4] founded the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.[5] His grandfather Isaac was a violinist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for twenty years. Both Lincoln and Marie gave interviews for the Oral History Collection at the University of Pittsburgh, Lincoln's in 1994, and Marie's in 1974. These can be heard online.[6]

Maazel was a child prodigy, taking his first conducting lesson at age seven with Vladimir Bakaleinikov and making his debut at age eight. At the age of eleven, he guest conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra on the radio. At twelve he toured the United States of America to conduct major orchestras. He made his violin debut at the age of fifteen. He attended the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School[7] at the University of Pittsburgh as a child, followed by Peabody High School and the University of Pittsburgh.[8][9][10] Maazel studied briefly with Pierre Monteux in 1945.[11]

Career[edit]

In the early 1950s, Maazel toured as the conductor with the Gershwin Concert Orchestra. The orchestra consisted of 25 members and a noted array of soloists. The orchestra was organized in cooperation with Ira Gershwin, to give the public a comprehensive Gershwin program. The list of soloists included George Gershwin's friend, Jesús Maria Sanromá, Carolyn Long and Theodor Uppman.[12]

In 1960, Maazel became the first American to conduct at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. He was chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1965 to 1971 and the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester (RSO) Berlin from 1964 to 1975.

In 1972, Maazel began his tenure as music director at the Cleveland Orchestra, succeeding George Szell. Maazel's emotional, rich interpretation of music greatly differed from Szell's characteristic crisp, defined precision in performance.[citation needed] A notable achievement during this time was the first complete recording of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, using an all-African American cast (except for the chorus). Maazel held the post until 1982. He did not conduct the orchestra after his departure; a scheduled engagement in 2006 did not occur because of illness.[13] In 1977, he became music director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, a position he held until 1991.

From 1982 to 1984, Maazel served at the Vienna State Opera as general manager and principal conductor. In 1980, he succeeded Willi Boskovsky as conductor at the Vienna New Year's Concert and he led this televised annual event each year, until 1986. He returned to it four times: in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2005.

From 1984 to 1988, Maazel was the music consultant to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and its music director from 1988 to 1996. From 1993 until 2002, he was chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich.

In 1989, expecting – but failing – to become successor to Herbert von Karajan as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Maazel suddenly and publicly severed all connections with the orchestra when it was announced that Claudio Abbado was to take over. He claimed that his decision was because he was concerned for the orchestra's well-being.[14]

In 2000, Maazel made a guest-conducting appearance with the New York Philharmonic in two weeks of subscription concerts after an absence of over twenty years,[15] which met with positive reaction from the orchestra musicians.[16] This engagement led to his appointment in January 2001 as the orchestra's next music director, starting in 2002, succeeding Kurt Masur.[17][18] Maazel conducted the New York Philharmonic on their landmark visit to Pyongyang, North Korea on February 26, 2008. He led the orchestra in renditions of the North Korean and United States national anthems, Dvořák's New World Symphony, George Gershwin's An American in Paris, and closed with the traditional Korean folk song "Arirang". Maazel stepped down from the New York Philharmonic after the 2008/09 season.

In 2004, Maazel became the music director of the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic. From September 2006 till March 2011, he was the musical director of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, the house orchestra of the opera house Palau de les Arts, Valencia, Spain. His last concert there as Music Director took place on his 81st birthday on March 6, 2011, conducting his only opera 1984. In March 2010, Maazel was named the next chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, effective with the 2012/13 season.[19] But an early departure by Christian Thielemann prompted Maazel to start a year early, taking over important concerts from September 2011[20]

Maazel conducted the music for three operatic films, Don Giovanni (1979), Carmen (1984) and Otello (1986). His own compositions included a poorly-reviewed opera, 1984, based on the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.[21] He was depicted conducting Vienna's New Year concert on an Austrian postage stamp issued in 2005.[22] Maazel and his wife, Dietlinde Turban together operated a summer music festival called Castleton Festival at their Castleton, Virginia 600-acre (2.4 km2) estate, Castleton Farms.[23] Maazel arranged Wagner's Ring Cycle into a 75-minute suite, The 'Ring' Without Words, which he recorded in 1987 with the Berlin Philharmonic.[24]

Maazel's catalogue contained over 300 recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schubert, Richard Strauss and others. He earned 10 Grand Prix du Disque awards.[21]

Early in 2014, the mostly reliable conductor was forced to cancel concerts as a result of an unnamed medical condition. In June 2014, he announced his resignation as music director of the Munich Philharmonic and his withdrawal from performances during the 2014/15 season.[25]

Lorin Maazel died on July 13, 2014, at his Castleton Farms estate in Virginia, from complications of pneumonia. He was survived by his daughters Anjali Maazel and Daria Maazel Steketee; son Ilann Maazel and daughter Fiona Maazel; his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, their sons Orson and Leslie, and their daughter Tara, and four grandchildren, Kiran, Owen, Calypso, and Sahara.[26] He was 84.

Honours[edit]

Lorin Maazel was a Commander of the Legion d'Honneur of the French Republic and of the Finnish Order of the Lion. He was decorated with the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany.

On the 27th. of May 2013 he received an honorary membership of the Vienna State Opera and the "Groszes Goldenes Verdienstkreuz" of Austria. The golden ring of honour, sign of his membership, was designed by Juwelier Wagner. These precious rings are created individually for each honorary member of the State Opera.[27]

He received the Italian Premio Abbiati and was an Honorary Life Member of the Israel Philharmonic.[28]

He was a Kentucky Colonel.[29]

Notable recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Midgette, Anne (July 13, 2014). "Lorin Maazel, child prodigy turned brilliant conductor and festival founder: 1930–2014". Washington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ Pittsburgh Live
  3. ^ Sara Bauknecht (September 23, 2009). "Obituary: Lincoln Maazel / Performer and father of symphony conductor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  4. ^ Variety Staff (December 17, 1992). "Obituary: Marion Maazel". Variety. Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ Lynne Conner (13 January 2002). "The Double Life of Lincoln Maazel", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  6. ^ University of Pittsburgh Library
  7. ^ Vitone, Elaine. "Well Schooled". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ "High School Boy to Lead Pittsburgh Symphony". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 15, 1942. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  9. ^ Apone, Carl (September 12, 1986). "The Maazel Era Begins". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ "East Liberty's Wall of Fame". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 7, 2001. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ Canarina J. Pierre Monteux, Maître. Amadeus Press, Pompton Plains, Cambridge, 2003, p228.
  12. ^ "Gershwin Festival Program Held At Kohler". The Sheboygan Press. May 11, 1953. p. 15. 
  13. ^ Donald Rosenberg, "Maazel cancels". Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 8, 2006.
  14. ^ Rockwell, John (October 25, 1989). "Maazel Cancels All Berlin Philharmonic Dates". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Martin Kettle (January 26, 2001). "The show goes on". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 27, 2007. 
  16. ^ Ralph Blumenthal and Doreen Carvajal (February 5, 2001). "Musicians Sing Out and Philharmonic Listens". New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  17. ^ Ralph Blumenthal (January 30, 2001). "Maazel Is to Lead Philharmonic; Will Succeed Masur as Director". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  18. ^ Norman Lebrecht (May 31, 2001). "At last, I've made my father happy". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved April 27, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Lorin Maazel wird Chefdirigent der Münchner Philharmoniker" (Press release). Munich Philharmonic. March 27, 2010. Retrieved March 27, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Guess who's starting a new job tonight". Arts Journal. September 15, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Lorin Maazel, inspiring conductor who led New York Philharmonic, dies at 84
  22. ^ "Austria: New Year's Concert 2005 – Lorin Maazel". International Stamp News.com. January 1, 2005. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 
  23. ^ Daniel J. Wakin (June 12, 2009). "For Maestro Maazel, It's on to the Coda". New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2010. 
  24. ^ Der Ring ohne Worte, Schott Music
  25. ^ Lebrecht, Norman (June 12, 2014). "Just in: Lorin Maazel quits Munich, takes a year off". Slipped Disc. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Maestro Lorin Maazel – 1930–2014". The Castleton Festival. July 13, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  27. ^ world-of-wagner Retrieved 20 July 2014
  28. ^ Castleton Festival Retrieved 20 July 2014
  29. ^ The Telegraph Retrieved 20 July 2014

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ferenc Fricsay
Principal Conductor, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
1964–1975
Succeeded by
Riccardo Chailly
Preceded by
(no predecessor)
Principal Conductor, Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
2006–present
Succeeded by
incumbent