Kurt Masur (1927-2015)

I will dedicate this new post in loving memory of famous conductor Kurt Masur who recently passed away at age 88 on Saturday, December 19th.

Kurt Masur was called as “one of the last old-style maestros”,  as the Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus, and also served as music director of the New York Philharmonic.

Matthew VanBesien, president of the New York Philharmonic, issued a statement on Saturday in which he said: “Maestro Masur’s 11-year tenure, one of the longest in the Philharmonic’s history, both set a standard and left a legacy that lives on today.

“What we remember most vividly is Masur’s profound belief in music as an expression of humanism,” VanBesien said in his statement.

The current music director, Alan Gilbert, said: “Masur’s years at the New York Philharmonic represent one of its golden eras, in which music-making was infused with commitment and devotion – with the belief in the power of music to bring humanity closer together.”

After his retirement as director of the New York Philharmonic, he became only the second man, after Leonard Bernstein, to be given an honorary title – in his case, music director emeritus. He was given official honours in the US, France, Poland and Germany.

Kurt Masur was born in Brieg, Lower Silesia, Germany (now Brzeg in Poland), and studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig, Saxony.

Masur conducted the 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 at the celebration of German reunification in 1990.

Later, in 1991, Kurt Masur became music director of the New York Philharmonic. One performance that Maestro Masur gave with the New York Philharmonic was of Brahms’s Deutsches Requiem, dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Of the excellent recordings that Maestro Kurt Massur gave us, I highly recommend his Bach, Beethoven and Brahms recordings.

Here is a magnificent example, one the most brilliant concerts of Brahms Simphony No 2,  in D major, Op. 73, conducted by Maestro Kurt Masur:

And this is one of the best recordings of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, conducted by Maestro Masur:

And this is, in loving memory of Kurt Masur, Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem, conducted by the maestro himself a few years ago.

Rest in peace, Maestro.

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