PITTSBURGH— The entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra organization was saddened to learn of the passing Maestro Lorin Maazel, who served as the orchestra’s music director from 1984 to 1996. Maazel, age 84, died on July 13, 2014 in Virginia from complications following pneumonia.
Maazel was a world-renowned conductor, as well as a composer, mentor, father and husband, who devoted more than 75 years of his life to music-making. He took the baton of the Pittsburgh Symphony during a critical time in its history, following the departure of Andre Previn. The symphony developed an unrivaled international following under his leadership, gathering future stature as he led tours of Europe, Asia and the Americas, added first-rank players to vital positions and programmed season-long retrospectives that appealed to audiences and critics alike.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maestro Lorin Maazel. There can be no doubt that he had a significant impact on the musical life of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the music world as a whole. I, myself, played many times under his baton and was struck by his prodigious talent and quest for perfection,” said Manfred Honeck, current music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. “He left behind a core of musical leaders that still define the Pittsburgh Symphony today and an incredible standard of playing. As one of his successors, I am deeply indebted to him for creating the ideal culture of musicians and the music-making exemplified in this orchestra. All of us at the Pittsburgh Symphony and our audiences, both here and around the world, continue to benefit from the work he did in Pittsburgh. I would like to express my deepest condolences to his family and his many friends and fans. We have truly lost one of the world’s greatest conductors.”
Born in Paris in 1930, Maazel began violin lessons at age five, and conducting lessons at age seven. He and his family moved to Pittsburgh so that he could study conducting with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, who had become associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1939. Between ages nine and 15, he conducted most of the major American orchestras, including the NBC Symphony at the invitation of Arturo Toscanini. In the course of his decades-long career, Maazel conducted more than 150 orchestras in no fewer than 5,000 opera and concert performances. He made more than 300 recordings, including symphonic cycles of complete orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Richard Strauss, winning 10 Grands Prix du Disques.
During his career, Maazel served as artistic director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and general manager of the Vienna State Opera, as music director of the Radio Symphony of Berlin, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, with whom he made an unprecedented visit to North Korea in 2008. He also was a highly regarded composer, with a wide-ranging catalog of works written primarily over the last 15 years.
“The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra joins the international music community in mourning the passing of a Pittsburgh native who began his music career as a child prodigy and grew to become the most prolific conductor of perhaps all time. He conducted some 150 orchestras during his lifetime and we, in Pittsburgh, benefited from and deeply respected his time with us as music director. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Maazel family,” said James Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.