Lorin Maazel, who served as the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1984 to 1996, passed away in Virginia July 13 from complications following pneumonia.
He was 84. Maazel, who became a world-renowned conductor, was the child of Lincoln Maazel and Marion Shulman Maazel, American-born children of Russian Jews. He was born in a Paris suburb where his parents were studying in 1930.
A child prodigy, he began violin lessons at age five and was teaching lessons at age seven. In 1939, Maazel moved with his family to Pittsburgh so that he could study conducting with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, who had become associate conductor of the PSO.
Between the ages of nine and 15, Maazel conducted most of the major American orchestras. While growing up in Pittsburgh, he lived with his family in Oakland and graduated from Peabody High School.
After graduation, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied languages, mathematics and philosophy, and soon became a violinist with the PSO. Maazel became conductor of the PSO during a critical time in its history, following the departure of Andre Previn.
During his tenure, the symphony developed an international following. “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maestro Lorin Maazel,” said Manfred Honeck, current music director of the PSO in a prepared statement. “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. He left behind a core of musical leaders that still define the Pittsburgh Symphony today and an incredible standard of playing.”
Maazel was also known as an accomplished composer, with a catalog of works written primarily over the last 15 years.
In addition to his time conducting the PSO, during the course of his decades-long career Maazel served as artistic director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin; general manager of the Vienna State Opera; music director of the Radio Symphony of Berlin; the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio; the Cleveland Orchestra; the Munich Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic.
“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,” said James Wilkinson, president and CEO of the PSO, in a prepared statement. “He conducted some 150 orchestras during his lifetime and we, in Pittsburgh, benefited from and deeply respected his time with us as music director.”
Maazel was married three times. He is survived by seven children, four grandchildren and his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel. – Toby Tabachnick, The Jewish Chronicle