Classical music world mourns conductor Maazel, dead at 84

Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:12pm EDT
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VIENNA (Reuters) - Tributes poured in from the classical music world on Monday for Lorin Maazel, considered one of the most brilliant conductors of his generation, who died on Sunday at the age of 84.

A child prodigy who later directed the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic among others, Maazel died at his home in Virginia from complications of pneumonia.

The Berlin Philharmonic, which he conducted regularly and had been due to conduct again in June, wrote on its website: "We are very sad that this reunion is no longer possible."

"We will remember Lorin Maazel as a great conductor, and we have grateful, lively memories of him as a master of energetic music-making with a timbral sensuality."

Maazel was born in Paris in 1930 to American parents of Russian origin, learned to play the piano and violin, and conducted orchestras including the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the Idaho Orchestra before he was a teenager.

His sharp ear for mistakes earned him the respect of older musicians and he combined an acclaimed baton technique with a memory that meant he rarely used scores.

Associated with most of the world's great orchestras, Maazel's hundreds of recordings included the cycles of the Beethoven, Mahler and Sibelius symphonies.

He was the first American to become general manager and artistic director of the Vienna State Opera, in 1982, but fell out with the then culture minister and left after two years.

Current opera director Dominique Meyer said in a statement late on Sunday: "Lorin Maazil's death is for us a great artistic and human loss. We are however thankful for the many impressions which he left behind, and which will stay with us."   Continued...

Music Director Lorin Maazel conducts the New York Philharmonic during a rehearsal before their concert at the Seoul Arts Centre February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won