In Sunday’s (6/14) New York Times, Dan Wakin profiles conductor Lorin Maazel on the eve of his retirement as music director of the New York Philharmonic. A prodigy who first conducted the Philharmonic at age nine, Maazel went on to excel as a violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and artistic leader of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and finally the New York Philharmonic. In Wakin’s view, Maazel “can be dismissive, censorious, attentive or engaging, attitudes also encountered by the musicians who play for him.… The leitmotif running through the maestro’s musings was that life had brought him to a new level of ‘mellow,’ a kind of gimlet-eyed distance from the follies of humanity.” Wakin quotes several Philharmonic musicians, noting that even those with less than complimentary things to say “praise Mr. Maazel’s musicianship and say he is capable of exciting, dynamic performances.” Maazel’s plans include guest conducting, “a return to composition,” and a festival to be held for the first time this summer (July 3-19) at Castleton Farms, the estate that he and his wife Dietlinde Turban-Maazel own in Virginia. It will focus on chamber operas by Benjamin Britten as well as master classes for conductors, instrumentalists, and singers. Maazel has engaged Philharmonic musicians as coaches, and he himself “will oversee the conducting students.” 

Posted June 15, 2009