Masur Bids Farewell to NY Philharmonic
Kurt Masur has left the New York Philharmonic after 11 years as music director amid an outpouring of gratitude and appreciation, culminating in the NY Phil's board's naming him music director emeritus, the only person other than Leonard Bernstein to receive an honorary title from the symphony. Coming from the administration that in 1998 reportedly revoked his contract extension without informing him beforehand, the move is at best ironic. The musicians and the audience, however, expressed a genuine sense of loss—at goodbye concerts in late May, palpable waves of warmth emanated from both sides of the footlights. Masur, though admittedly hurt and bitter, says, "What I shall remember most is the love and energy [the audience] has given us . . . and the pride I have felt in working with . . . this orchestra [that] I love so much."
Over the years, orchestra and conductor seem to have advanced each other's artistic growth, reaching a triumphant peak in the last three programs in May.
Masur, 74, is moving on to become music director of the Orchestre National de France.
The orchestra's next maestro is Lorin Maazel, director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich and renowned for his versatility. His first season's programs will combine the traditional with the adventurous. Guest artists will include new talents and old friends, among them Kurt Masur. Maazel will conduct his first Philharmonic concert on September 18, a gala event with an all-Beethoven program. The first subscription concerts take place on September 19, 20, 21, and 24, featuring the Beethoven Ninth and the premiere of John Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls," for orchestra and chorus, commissioned by the NY Phil in honor of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
NEXT STOP, PARIS: Kurt Masur.