KURT MASUR is well-known to orchestras and audiences alike as both a distinguished conductor and humanist. In September 2002, Masur became Music Director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, and in September 2008 he assumed the title of Honorary Music Director for Life, ensuring his close and active involvement with the Orchestra for many more years to come. From September 2000-2007 he was Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic. From 1991-2002 he was Music Director of the New York Philharmonic; following his 11-year tenure he was named Music Director Emeritus, becoming the first New York Philharmonic music director to receive that title, and only the second (after the late Leonard Bernstein, who was named Laureate Conductor) to be given an honorary position. The New York Philharmonic established the “Kurt Masur Fund for the Orchestra,” which will endow a conductor’s debut week at the Philharmonic in perpetuity in his honor.
From 1970 until 1996, Masur served as Gewandhaus Kapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, a position of profound historic importance. Upon his retirement from that post in 1996, the Gewandhaus named him its first-ever Conductor Laureate. Masur is a guest conductor with the world’s leading orchestras and holds the lifetime title of Honorary Guest Conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In July 2007, Masur celebrated his 80th birthday in an extraordinary concert at the BBC Proms in London, where he conducted joint forces of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National de France.
A professor at the Leipzig Academy of Music since 1975, he has received numerous honors: in 1995, he received the Cross of the Order of Merits of the Federal Republic of Germany; in 1996 he received the Gold Medal of Honor for Music from the National Arts Club; in 1997 he received the titles of Commander of the Legion of Honor from the French government and New York City Cultural Ambassador from the City of New York. In April 1999 he received the Commander Cross of Merit of the Polish Republic; in March 2002 the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau, bestowed upon Masur the Cross with Star of the Order of Merits of the Federal Republic of Germany; and in September 2007, the President of Germany, Horst Köhler, bestowed upon him the Great Cross of the Legion of Honor with Star and Ribbon. In September 2008 Masur received the Furtwängler Prize in Bonn, Germany. He is also an Honorary Citizen of his hometown Brieg. Masur has made well over 100 recordings with numerous orchestras. In 2008, he celebrated 60 years of career as a professional conductor.