Masur, Kurt

Masur, Kurt ko͝ort mäzo͝orˈ [key], 1927–2015, German conductor, b. Brieg, Germany (now Brzeg, Poland). Masur was noted for his authoritative performances of the German composers whose works form the core of the traditional symphonic repertoire and of modern Eastern European and Russian composers. He studied piano, composition, and conducting at the Music College of Leipzig. Starting in 1948 he held a number of conducting posts in East Germany. His first major orchestral appointment came in 1955, when he became conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic; he later served (1967–72) as its chief conductor. Masur was music director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig from 1970 to 1997; during his tenure he played a prominent part in the city events (1989) that contributed to the nonviolent collapse of the East German Communist regime. In 1991 he succeeded Zubin Mehta as music director of the New York Philharmonic, where he was credited with transforming what had become a rather lackluster ensemble into a world-class orchestra. In 2002 he left New York, where he became the second conductor after Leonard Bernstein to be named director emeritus, and assumed the posts of principal conductor (2000–2007) of the London Philharmonic and music director (2002–8) of the Orchestre National de France.

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