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Kurt Masur

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Masur conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 2007

Kurt Masur (born July 18, 1927) is a German conductor. He conducts many of the world’s leading orchestras. He especially likes conducting German Romantic music.

Masur was born in Brieg, which was then part of Germany but is now called Brzeg and lives in Poland. He studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig.

His first important conducting job was with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he worked from 19551958 and again from 1967 to 1972. He also worked with the Komische Oper of East Berlin. From 19701996 he was the Kapellmeister (musical director) of the famous Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.

Dresden and Leipzig both lie in what used to be the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). For years Masur worked faithfully for the communist leaders of that country. When the political situation started to change in 1989 he helped to keep the demonstrations peaceful by talking to the politicians and the people and stop them from fighting.

In 1991 Masur became music director of the New York Philharmonic. He stayed there for over a decade, helping to make them one of the world’s finest orchestras.

From 2000 to 2007 Masur was principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra,. In April 2002, Masur became music director of the Orchestre National de France. He will leave this job in 2008 when Daniele Gatti will take over.

On his 80th birthday, 18 July 2007, Masur conducted musicians from both these orchestras at a Proms concert in London, conducting music by Tchaikovsky and Bruckner.

Masur enjoys working with young musicians: conducting youth orchestras and giving masterclasses. He often goes to Bonn where he gives lessons on the art of conducting Beethoven’s music.

Masur has been married three times. His first wife, with whom he had a daughter, died in 1972 in a car accident where Masur himself was badly injured. He now lives with his third wife, Tomoko. They have a son, Ken, who has also become a conductor.

On 26 April 2012 Masur fell off the podium while he was conducting the National Orchestra of France at a concert in Paris. He was taken to hospital to recover from his injuries.[1]


  1. The Independent, Sat 28 April 2012 p.35

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