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For over five decades, LORIN MAAZEL has been one of the world’s most esteemed and sought-after conductors. He recently completed his seventh and final season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, and continues, now in his fourth season, as the first Music Director of the spectacular, Santiago Calatrava-designed opera house in Valencia, Spain, the Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofia” and as the founder and Artistic Director of the new Castleton Festival, launched to exceptional acclaim in July 2009.
Maazel is also a highly regarded composer, with a wide-ranging catalog of works written primarily over the last dozen years. His first opera, 1984, based on George Orwell’s literary masterpiece, had its world premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in May 2005. A revival of 1984 took place at the La Scala in May 2008, and a Decca DVD of the original London production was released that same month.
A second-generation American born in Paris, Maazel began violin lessons at age five, and conducting lessons at age seven. He studied with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, and appeared publicly for the first time at age eight. Between ages nine and fifteen, he conducted most of the major American orchestras, including the NBC Symphony at the invitation of Toscanini. At 17, he entered the University of Pittsburgh to study languages, mathematics, and philosophy. In 1951 he went to Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship to further his studies, and two years later made his European conducting debut, stepping in for an ailing conductor at the Massimo Bellini Theatre in Catania, Italy. He quickly established himself as a major artist, appearing at Bayreuth in 1960 (the first American to do so), with the Boston Symphony in 1961, and at the Salzburg Festival in 1963.
In the years since, Maazel has conducted more than 150 orchestras in no fewer than five thousand opera and concert performances. He has made over 300 recordings, including symphonic cycles/complete orchestral works of Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss, winning 10 Grands Prix du Disques.
Maazel has been music director of the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio (1993-2002); music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony (1988-96); general manager and chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera (1982-84 – the first American to hold that position); music director of The Cleveland Orchestra (1972–82); and artistic director and chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1965–71). His close association with the Vienna Philharmonic includes 11 internationally televised New Year’s Concerts from Vienna.
Alongside his prodigious performing activity, Maazel has found time to work with and nurture young artists, based on his strong belief in the value of sharing his experience with the next generation(s) of musicians. He founded a major competition for young conductors in 2000, culminating in a final round Carnegie Hall two years later, and has since been an active mentor to many of the finalists. Through his Châteauville Foundation in Castleton, Virginia, he has created a new Festival and residency program for young artists, bringing together aspiring singers, instrumentalists and conductors to work in an intensive, collaborative environment, with guidance from senior artists/mentors.