Lorin Maazel: In Memoriam (1930 – 2014)

Lorin Maazel

Maestro Lorin Maazel lead the Vienna Philharmonic in a New Year’s Celebration Concert in 2005. Photo: Terry Linke

American conductor, composer and violinist Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) died July 13, 2014, at his home in Virginia from complications from pneumonia. The extraordinarily gifted maestro was a child prodigy who conducted his first concert at the age of nine. By 2013, he had worked with around 200 orchestras and in 2014, announced his retirement as music director of the Munich Philharmonic while still preparing for this year’s Castleton Festival, which he founded and still served as executive and artistic director.

He had a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, and conducted the New Year’s Concert in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein (an annual tradition on Great Performances on PBS) no fewer than 11 times.

He served as New York Philharmonic Music Director from 2002 to 2009, and in February 2008, led the New York Philharmonic’s historic concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, which was broadcast on North Korean state television, internationally and on Great Performances.

A second-generation American, born in Paris, Mr. Maazel was raised and educated in the United States. He took his first violin lesson at age five and his first conducting lesson at seven. Between ages nine and 15 he conducted most of the major American orchestras. In 1953 he made his European conducting debut in Catania, Italy. Mr. Maazel was also an accomplished composer. His opera, “1984,” received its world premiere on May 3, 2005, at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

His last broadcast for Great Performances was the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2013. That outdoors concert was recorded May 30 during a windy rainstorm. “Do I dare confess I loved every minute of this mad, fabulous evening?” wrote Maazel in a blog post afterwards.

Mr. Maazel also served as music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (1993-2002) and held positions as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1988-96); general manager and chief conductor of the Vienna Staatsoper (1982-84); music director of The Cleveland Orchestra (1972-82); and artistic director and chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1965-71). He was an honorary member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic.

In addition to the programs mentioned above, Maestro Maazel was also featured on Great Performances in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem (1985), Carnegie Hall Opening Night 1999, and most recently in 2013 with the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2013.