Kurt Masur (18 July 1927 – 19 December 2015) was a German conductor.
Called "one of the last old-style maestros", he directed many of
the principal orchestras of his era. He had a long career as the
Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus, and also served as music director of
the New York Philharmonic.
3 Political views
6 External links
Masur was born in Brieg, Lower Silesia, Germany (now
Brzeg in Poland),
and studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig, Saxony.
Masur was married three times. His first marriage ended in divorce. He
and his second wife, Irmgard, had a daughter, Carolin. Irmgard
Masur died in 1972 in a car accident in which Masur was severely
injured. His marriage to his third wife, Tomoko Sakurai, produced a
son, Ken-David, a classical singer and conductor.
Masur died at the age of 88 in Greenwich, Connecticut, from
complications of Parkinson's disease. He is survived by his third wife
and their son, as well as his daughters Angelika and Carolin, his two
other sons, Michael and Matthias, and nine grandchildren.
At 10 until 16, he took piano lessons with Katharina Hartmann. In 1943
and 1944, he had piano lessons at the Landesmusikschule Breslau, until
the schoolboy was forced to join the national militia "Volkssturm"
late in 1944.
From 1946 until 1948, he studied conducting, composition and piano at
the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig. He left at 21, never
finishing his studies, when offered a job as répétiteur at the
Landestheater Halle an der Saale.
Masur conducted the
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra for three years
ending in 1958 and again from 1967 to 1972. He also worked with the
Komische Oper of East Berlin. In 1970, he became
Kapellmeister of the
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, serving in that post until 1996. With
that orchestra, he performed
Beethoven's ninth symphony
Beethoven's ninth symphony at the
German reunification in 1990.
In 1991, Masur became music director of the New York Philharmonic
(NYP). In that capacity, he directed the Philharmonic in a performance
of Brahms's Deutsches Requiem in the aftermath of the terrorist
attacks on 11 September 2001. During his tenure, there were reports
of tension between Masur and the NYP's Executive Director at the time,
Deborah Borda, which eventually contributed to his contract not being
renewed beyond 2002. In a television interview with Charlie Rose,
Masur stated that regarding his leaving the NYP, "it was not my
wish". Masur stood down as the NYP's music director in 2002 and was
named its Music Director Emeritus, a new title created for him. The
critical consensus was that Masur improved the playing of the
orchestra over his tenure.
In 2000, Masur became principal conductor of the London Philharmonic
Orchestra (LPO) and held this position until 2007. In April 2002,
Masur became music director of the
Orchestre National de France (ONF)
and served in this post until 2008, when he took the title of
honorary music director of the ONF. On his 80th birthday, 18 July
2007, Masur conducted musicians from both orchestras at a Proms
concert in London. Masur held the lifetime title of Honorary Guest
Conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2012, following a
series of cancellations of concert engagements, Masur disclosed on his
website that he had Parkinson's Disease.
Although Masur spent most of his professional career in East Germany,
he never joined the SED. In 1982, he received the National Prize
of East Germany. His attitude to the regime began to change in 1989,
after the arrest of a street musician in Leipzig. On 9 October
1989, he intervened in anti-government demonstrations in
communist East Germany, negotiating an end to a confrontation that
could have resulted in security forces attacking the protesters.
A professor at the
Leipzig Academy of Music since 1975, Masur received
numerous honors. In 1995, he received the Cross of the Order of Merit
of the Federal Republic of Germany; in 1996 he received the Gold Medal
of Honor for Music from the National Arts Club; in 1997 he received
the titles of
Commander of the Legion of Honor
Commander of the Legion of Honor from the French
government, and New York City Cultural Ambassador from the City of New
York; in April 1999 he received the Commander Cross of Merit of the
Polish Republic; in March 2002, the President of Germany, Johannes
Rau, awarded him the Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the
Federal Republic of Germany; in September 2007, the President of
Germany, Horst Köhler, bestowed upon him the Grand Cross of the Order
of Merit with Star and Ribbon; in September 2008, he received the
Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize in Bonn, Germany. Masur was also an
Honorary Citizen of his hometown Brieg. In 2001,
Kurt Masur became an
Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. In 2010, he
received the Leo Baeck Medal (Leo Baeck Institute) for his
humanitarian work promoting tolerance and social justice. He received
a Goldene Henne (de) award in 2014 for his work in public
^ "In praise of... Kurt Masur". The Guardian. 18 July 2007. Retrieved
19 December 2015.
^ John Tagliabue (2 January 1992). "
Kurt Masur in Leipzig: A Favorite
Son at Home". New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
^ a b Margalit Fox;
James R. Oestreich (19 December 2015). "Kurt Masur
Dies at 88; Conductor Transformed New York Philharmonic". The New York
Times. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
^ Kevin Shihoten (18 July 2007). "Ken Masur Named Resident Conductor
of San Antonio Symphony". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
^ a b Pengelly, Martin (19 December 2015). "Kurt Masur, great
conductor who led New York Philharmonic, dies at 88". The Guardian.
Retrieved 19 December 2015.
^ Greg Sandow (5 June 2002). "Kurt, We Hardly Knew Ye". Wall Street
Journal. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 12
^ "Interview with Kurt Masur". The
Charlie Rose Show (Interview).
Interview with Charlie Rose. PBS. 21 May 2002. Archived from the
original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
^ Peter G. Davis (17 June 2002). "Soul Man". New York. Retrieved 13
^ Matthew Westphal (23 July 2007). "
Daniele Gatti to Succeed Kurt
Masur at Orchestre National de France". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 24
^ George Hall (20 July 2007). "LPO/ONF/Masur". The Guardian. Retrieved
24 July 2007.
^ Steve Smith (10 November 2012). "A Maestro Returns With a Brahms
Double Concerto and a Surprise Soloist". New York Times. Retrieved 25
^ Anastasia Tsioulcas (19 December 2015). "Remembering Kurt Masur, the
Conductor Who Rebuilt the New York Philharmonic". NPR.
^ Michael Walsh (23 April 1990). "New York Gets a Revolutionary".
Time. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
^ Gaddis, John Lewis (2005). The Cold War: A New History. New York:
Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-062-5.
^ "Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music". Royal Academy of
Music. 14 October 2009. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009.
Retrieved 14 October 2009.
Kurt Masur – Biography". Kurt Masur, official site. Retrieved 19
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kurt Masur.
Kurt Masur at AllMusic
Kurt Masur on IMDb
Kurt Masur by Bruce Duffie, June 1988
Leo Baeck Institute, "Leo Baeck Medal for Kurt Masur", 10 November
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