The Kennedy Center

Lorin Maazel



Biography

For over five decades, Lorin Maazel has been one of the world's most esteemed and sought-after conductors. He currently holds three prominent music directorships, with three very different institutions, together encompassing an extraordinary breadth of activity. He is in his fifth season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, which is not only the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States but also the world's most prolific, having given over 14,000 concerts since its founding. At the other end of the historical spectrum, Maestro Maazel is Music Director of two newly created musical organizations: the spectacular, Santiago Calatrava-designed opera house in Valencia, Spain, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, and Italy's Symphonica Toscanini, a uniquely structured orchestra of top young professional players, based in Rome, but with a highly visible international touring profile.

Maestro Maazel's 2006-07 season with the New York Philharmonic is highlighted by major tours of Asia and Europe, a comprehensive Brahms Festival in New York and concert performances of Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortileges, among a full subscription schedule. As part of the inaugural season of the Palau de les Arts, he will lead new productions of Don Giovanni and Simon Boccanegra, a Mozart Gala for UNICEF, and several other concerts programs. With the Symphonica Toscanini, he directs the orchestra on its first coast-to-coast U.S. tour (including a joint concert with the New York Philharmonic), makes several tours in Europe, conducts a Beethoven cycle at the orchestra's home in Rome (the Auditorium Conciliazione) and gives concert performances of Aida on Lake Maggiore and as part of a major South American tour. As guest conductor, he leads two weeks with the Munich Philharmonic and returns to La Scala for a production of "La Traviata" (with Angela Gheorghiu making her operatic debut in the house).

Maestro Maazel is also a highly regarded composer, with a wide-ranging catalogue of works written primarily over the last dozen years. His first opera, 1984, based on George Orwell's literary masterpiece, had its world premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in May 2005, and was broadcast on radio and television by the BBC and on many other national radio networks worldwide. A high-definition video production of 1984, recorded at Covent Garden, was given a world premiere screening as one of the centerpiece events at the 2006 MIDEM Festival in Cannes, France (an occasion which prompted MIDEM to give a special award to Maestro Maazel for his lifetime achievements as conductor, composer and recording artist--only the 2nd such prize ever bestowed). Revivals of 1984 are now being scheduled in several other important opera houses, beginning in the 2007-08 season with the Palau de les Arts (Valencia) and the Teatro alla Scala (Milan).

Maestro Maazel's compositional catalogue also includes a trilogy of concertos, Opp. 10, 11 and 12, "Music for Cello and Orchestra" (written for Mstislav Rostropovich) "Music for Flute and Orchestra" (written for James Galway) and "Music for Violin and Orchestra"; a symphonic movement ("Farewells," Op. 14), premiered in 2000 by the Vienna Philharmonic, which commissioned the work; and several contributions to repertoire of narrated texts with orchestra, including two children's stories, "The Giving Tree" and "The Empty Pot." He enjoys orchestrating violin and piano works of 19th and 20th century masters, and created 17 Italian-song arrangements for violin, tenor and orchestra for a best-selling recording with Andrea Bocelli and the London Symphony Orchestra (for which Maestro Maazel was conductor and violin soloist). His symphonic synthesis of Wagner's Ring cycle ("The Ring without Words") has been performed by many of the world's leading orchestras.

A second-generation American born in Paris, Lorin Maazel began violin lessons at age five, and conducting lessons at age seven. He studied with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, and appeared publicly for the first time at age eight, conducting a university orchestra. Between ages nine and fifteen, he made his New York debut at the 1939 World's Fair, conducting the Interlochen Orchestra; led the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, sharing a program with Leopold Stokowski; and conducted most of the major American orchestras, including the NBC Symphony at the invitation of Toscanini. His New York Philharmonic debut came in 1942. He was only twelve years old.

At 17, he entered the University of Pittsburgh to study languages, mathematics and philosophy. While a student, he was a violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, where he also served as apprentice conductor during the 1949–50 season, and organized the Fine Arts Quartet of Pittsburgh. In 1951 he went to Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship to further his studies, and two years later made his European conducting debut, stepping in for an ailing conductor at the Massimo Bellini Theatre in Catania, Italy. He quickly established himself as a major artist, appearing at Bayreuth in 1960 (the first American to do so), with the Boston Symphony in 1961, and at the Salzburg Festival in 1963.

In the years since, Maestro Maazel has conducted more than one hundred and fifty orchestras in no fewer than five thousand opera and concert performances. He has made over three hundred recordings, including symphonic cycles/complete orchestral works of Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss, winning 10 Grands Prix du Disques. His discography includes a range of violin recordings, often in a double role as soloist and conductor, from virtuoso showpieces to Mozart Concertos to Stravinsky's "Soldier's Tale." He is the recipient of two ASCAP awards for contributions to American music and has made appearances in every major music center and at every prominent festival internationally. He has conducted numerous world premieres by both established and up-and-coming composers and performed hundreds of concerts as a violin soloist, including appearances with such orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the New York Philharmonic, among many others.

Maestro Maazel has been music director of the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio (1993 until summer 2002), music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony (1988–96); general manager and chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera (1982–84) -- the first American to hold that position; music director of The Cleveland Orchestra (1972–82); and artistic director and chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1965–71). He was named Honorary Member of the Israel Philharmonic in 1985 when he conducted its 40th Anniversary concert. He is also an Honorary Member of the Vienna Philharmonic, and is the recipient of the Hans von Bülow Silver Medal from the Berlin Philharmonic. His close association with the Vienna Philharmonic includes 11 internationally televised New Year's Concerts from Vienna (often with Maestro Maazel making an added contribution to the festivities as violinist).

Alongside his prodigious performing activity, Maestro Maazel has found time to work with and nurture young artists, based on his strong belief in the value of sharing his experience with the next generation(s) of musicians. He founded a major competition for young conductors in 2000, culminating in a final round Carnegie Hall two years later, and has since been an active mentor to many of the finalists (and instrumental in launching their international careers). Through his Châteauville Foundation, in Castleton, Virginia, he has created a new festival/residency program for young artists, centered around fully staged productions of chamber operas, bringing together aspiring singers, instrumentalists, conductors, designers, directors, and stage management personnel to work in an intensive, collaborative environment, with guidance from senior artists/mentors, Maestro Maazel included.

He has an equally strong commitment to environmental and humanitarian causes. He has raised millions of dollars on over fifty occasions for the benefit of such entities as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Wide Fund for Nature, the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Maestro Maazel speaks French, German and Italian fluently (and has a working knowledge of Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). Among his honors, decorations, and awards are the Commander's Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Legion of Honor of France, the Knight Grand Cross from the Republic of Italy, and the Commander of the Lion of Finland. He also has been awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations.

An avid reader, classic film buff, and theatergoer, he also enjoys playing tennis, swimming and collecting American paintings and Oriental art.
Lorin Maazel