Henry Mazer

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Henry Mazer
Henry Simon Mazer[2]
Henry Mazer
Background information
Also known as亨利·梅哲[2]
Born(1918-07-21)July 21, 1918[3][4]
DiedAugust 1, 2002(2002-08-01) (aged 84)[3][5]
GenresClassical music[2][6]
Occupation(s)Conductor, recording artist,[2][6]music educator[2]
Years active1948–2002[2][6]
LabelsJingo (金革唱片) (zh)[7]
Associated actsChicago Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra[6]

Henry Simon Mazer[2] ((1918-07-21)July 21, 1918 – (2002-08-01)August 1, 2002),[3][5][8] was an American and later Taiwanese conductor, recording artist[6] and music educator[2] who was the founding principal conductor[9] and music director of Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 until suffering a stroke in February 2001.[5][10] Prior to his move to Taiwan, he was the conductor and associate conductor of major American symphonies including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[5] He contributed greatly to the refinement of the performances of classical music in Taiwan, leading local musicians to gain recognition overseas.[11] There is a cultural center dedicated to him in Taipei.[12]


Born in Pittsburgh, Mazer was educated at Duquesne University and at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.[5][13] Mazer chose conducting for his career early-on in his life, and became the protégé of renowned conductor Fritz Reiner. At Reiner's recommendation, Mazer conducted the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia from 1948–1958 and the Florida Symphony Orchestra in Orlando from 1958–1965. In 1966, Mazer was named Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Four years later, he received a last-minute invitation to stand-in with the Symphony when its conductor, William Steinberg, was taken ill. Held at New York City's Carnegie Hall, the concert brought Mazer to the attention of Sir Georg Solti, who later asked him to be his Associate Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for the next 15 years. During that time, he performed with internationally acclaimed musicians such as Arthur Rubinstein, Isaac Stern, Andrés Segovia, Rudolf Serkin, Robert Casadesus, and Marian Anderson.[14][6]

Mazer conducted hundreds of subscription concerts for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, often substituting for Solti on short notice.[5] Although initially described alongside Solti as the "new breed of virtuosi,"[15] not every review was positive: following his move to Taiwan, one Chicago critic described his performances as "dull readings."[16] Mazer, however, would end up with no shortage of fans.[6] In Chicago, however, he had seemed overshadowed by Solti, but was seen as dedicated and highly competent,[5] taking on more avant-garde works neither Solti nor others would touch.[5][17] Taiwan would be different.[6]

Mazer was first approached about coming to Taiwan as a guest conductor during his term with the Chicago Symphony and agreed to visit the island for four concerts in the summer of 1985.[18] After the success of the concerts, Mazer took on the challenge of developing a new orchestra in Taiwan – Taipei Sinfonietta (the former Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra). "I could not help develop the Chicago Symphony Orchestra any further, whereas in Taiwan I could see plenty of development potential", he said.[6][14]

In 1990, Mazer brought the orchestra to perform in the United States and Canada. Music critic William Russo wrote: "The Sinfonietta is one of the finest groups of musicians I have ever heard". Gradually, such impressive reviews overseas would succeed in opening eyes back in Taiwan. During its image-building campaign abroad, the orchestra also toured Europe over the next couple of years, playing in Lyons, Brussels, and Antwerp. But the highlights of the various European concerts was their performance in Musikvereinssaal, home to Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Following the performances, music critics in Austria dubbed the orchestra a "wonder of Taiwan." After the Vienna trip, Mazer's orchestra enjoyed a surge in popularity back home in Taiwan. In addition, several CDs released by the orchestra met with brisk sales.[6][14]

The most recent overseas tour was in 1995 to New York and Boston. After the performance at the Boston Symphony Hall, Mazer received the greatest review of his career when Boston Globe music critic Richard Dyer compared him to America's beloved Leonard Bernstein. "The way the Taipei Sinfonietta plays is a real tribute to Mazer's musicianship. They play with a glowing sound, a precision of intonation, an absolute unanimity of impulse, and a rare commitment," he added.[19]

Despite the international recognition,[20] Mazer lead a very simple life while he was in Taiwan. He got along well with his Chinese musicians, some of whom he worked with for a decade and were regarded as his own children. Mazer said he found Chinese musicians to be more disciplined than those in the West, and thus more satisfying to work with.[21][6] "This wonderful island has given me the best musical experience of my life."[6][14][22]



In addition to awards and international critical acclaim for his music and recordings,[6] Mazer was noted in Chicago for his contribution to children's concerts,[26][27][28] including the CSO's Petites Promenades Concert Series,[29][30][31] which held several performances each year, sometimes in collaboration with Lady Solti[32][33] and composer Irwin Fischer.[34][27][35] Mazer had already been actively involved in youth musical education in Orlando through the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra while conducting the Florida Symphony Orchestra.[36] In Chicago, Mazer was put in charge of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's educational program[5] and received press attention when asked to "revitalize" the CSO's youth concerts, working with Chicago's Junior League to raise funding for musical education.[37] In addition to holding "miniconcerts" and lecturing in the Chicago Public Schools,[37] Mazer helped bring "unprepared ghetto children" to concerts.[38] Mazer won a Special Award for Music Education in 1986 from then-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.[2]

In Literature[edit]

Mazer makes an extended appearance in Sir Yehudi Menuhin’s then-widely read autobiography Unfinished Journey.[21][39]

Personal life[edit]

In Taiwan, through "steely strength"[6] the energetic Mazer insisted on walking despite a serious injury and operation that "would have an ordinary person confined to a wheelchair forever."[6] Although Mazer would be survived by several children from his marriage,[5] Mazer lived alone in Taiwan after the death of his wife.[6]


The Taipei Philharmonic and Henry Mazer Music and Cultural Center in Zhongzhen District in Taipei was built in Mazer's memory. The lower level is dedicated to exhibits on the conductor. Visitors can view Mazer's former belongings, photographs, and listen to Mazer's music and videos on vinyl, CD, and DVD in listening rooms.[12][40]

Further reading[edit]

Wikiquote-logo.svg Chinese Wikiquote has quotations related to: Henry Mazer

  • Chicago Tribune obituary[5]
  • "Never Boring: an essay on Henry Mazer" (The China Post Obituary and related Blogspot article)[6][21]
  • Zhu Hezhi, Conductor Henry Mazer: a life dedicated to Taiwan, 2003 ISBN 9576078563 (full-length trade press biography in Chinese)[2]
  • Henry Mazer at Chinese Wikipedia (Significantly longer Chinese-language article)
  • Henry Mazer-related articles on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Rosenthal Archives Blog



  1. ^ a b MusicBrainz musicbrainz.org 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hezhi, Zhu (2003). Conductor Henry Mazer. ISBN 9576078563.
  3. ^ a b c d "Henry Mazer's Obituary on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2002-02-09. Retrieved 2017-05-28 – via Legacy.com.
  4. ^ a b c "Henry MAZER". Altmeyer Obituary Archive. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l von Rhein, John (August 4, 2002). "Henry Mazer, 84: Longtime CSO associate conductor". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Wille, Rolf-Peter (August 7, 2002). "Henry Mazer: Never boring". The China Post. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b MusicBrainz musicbrainz.org 2017
  8. ^ "Henry MAZER Altmeyer Obituary Archive". altmeyer.com. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  9. ^ "TAIPEI PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  10. ^ Delacoma, Wynne (2002-08-03). "CSO conductor Henry Mazer dies". Chicago Sun-times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05 – via Highbeam.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2011-01-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b "Taipei Philharmonic and Henry Mazer Music and Cultural Center". Taipei Travel. Archived from the original on 2019-03-29. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  13. ^ "Henry Mazer". Marquis Who's Who. OCLC 5567286586.
  14. ^ a b c d Chen, Andrea (August 11, 1996). "Mazer's career as conductor blossoms in Taiwan". Taiwan Today. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Thursday, May 23, 1974 Page 29". The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware. May 23, 1974. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  16. ^ Polkow, Dennis (February 23, 1989). "Solti Showing Off". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  17. ^ Peck, Donald (2007-07-20). The Right Place, The Right Time!: Tales of Chicago Symphony Days (First ed.). Bloomington, IN u.a.: Indiana University Press. p. 7. ISBN 9780253349149.
  18. ^ Marsh, Robert (1986-05-11). "The legacy of Henry Mazer // CSO artistic standards must not be compromised for any man or purpose". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05 – via Highbeam.
  19. ^ Dyer, Richard (October 10, 1995). "Taipei Sinfonietta: Bright sound, rare commitment". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Taipei Sinfonietta & Philharmonic Orchestra: TAIPEI SINFONIETTA & PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  21. ^ a b c Wille, Rolf-Peter. "Never Boring: an essay on Henry Mazer". blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  22. ^ "A Memorial for Maestro Henry Mazer - Taipei Times". Taipei Times. February 7, 2003. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  23. ^ "Release group "Henry Mazer conducting the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in "pops" favorites of the Ohio Valley." by Henry Mazer,Wheeling Symphony Orchestra - MusicBrainz". musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  24. ^ "Florida Symphony Orchestra And Bach Festival Choir – Journey To Infinity". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  25. ^ MusicBrainz musicbrainz.org 2017
  26. ^ Delacoma, Wynne (May 23, 1986). "Conductor Mazer to retire in style". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  27. ^ a b Fischer, Marion; Getz, Robert. "Irwin Leroy Fischer". injofferings.com. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  28. ^ Reich, Howard (May 22, 1981). "Concerts provide forum for Chicago musical prodigies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  29. ^ "February 27, 1977 – Page 29". Harvey Star Tribune. February 27, 1977. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  30. ^ "Thursday, October 3, 1974, Page 50". Suburbanite Economist. October 3, 1974. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Kids Put on Folk Festival". Chicago Tribune. May 16, 1981.
  32. ^ "Petites Promenades- IP September 1978". www.lib.niu.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  33. ^ Breu, Giovanna (1978-05-29). "For Lady Valerie, Opera Is Child's Play: Her Major Role Is Orchestrating Sir Georg's Life – Vol. 9 No. 21". PEOPLE. 9 (21). Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  34. ^ "Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra 20th Anniversary" (PDF).
  35. ^ "CSO Rosenthal Archivals on CSO Music Premiers" (PDF).
  36. ^ "The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida on September 14, 1965 · Page 4". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  37. ^ a b "Music to captivate young minds (March 25, 1973)". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  38. ^ Rosenberg, Deena; Rosenberg, Bernard (1979-10-15). The Music Makers (1St ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-03953-6.
  39. ^ Menuhin, Yehudi (1997). Unfinished Journey: Twenty Years Later. Fromm Intl. p. 327. ISBN 0-88064-179-7.
  40. ^ "Taipei Philharmonic and Henry Mazer Music and Cultural Center 臺北愛樂暨梅哲音樂文化館". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  41. ^ "CSO Rosenthal Archives Search Tips" (PDF). Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  42. ^ "In Memoriam: John F. Kennedy (Passacaglia) – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Archives". Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Archives.
  43. ^ "New York Public Library Archives". Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  44. ^ "Jacobs Pillow Archives". Retrieved 20 May 2017.