German conductor Kurt Masur was born on 18 July 1927 in Brieg, Silesia. He studied piano, composition and conducting in Leipzig.
He was conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra from 1955 until 1958 and from 1967 until 1972. From 1970 until 1996 he was Kapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, and they celebrated German reunification in 1990 by performing Beethoven's Choral Symphony.
Masur had remained loyal to the communist East German government until a street musician was arrested in Leipzig in 1989. On 9 October in the same year, he negotiated a peaceful end to anti-government demonstrations in Leipzig.
Masur was music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 untll 2002, leading the orchestra in Brahms' German Requiem following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
From 2000 until 2007 he was principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and from 2002 until 2008 he was music director of l'Orchestre national de France.
Kurt Masur suffered from Parkinson's disease in his final years, making this public in 2012, but continuing to conduct when possible. He died in Connecticut, USA, on 19 December 2015, aged eighty-eight, from Parkinson's complications.
In addition to winning various awards for his music making, Masur also won awards for his humanitarian work promoting tolerance and social justice, and for his work in public policy.
A selection of M&V articles about Kurt Masur
CD Spotlight. Astonishing Performances - Early recordings by Nelson Freire impress Gerald Fenech. 'An ideal set for ... all who admire this truly great soloist.'
CD Spotlight. Varied Mythology - Deutsche Grammophon's Strauss opera compilation, sampled by Robert Anderson. '... a hugely enjoyable set ...'
Ensemble. Sublime Music-making - Kurt Masur conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra, heard by Bill Newman
DVD Spotlight. Intensity and Concentration - Kurt Masur conducts Richard Strauss, reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz. '... beautifully and confidently performed ...'
CD Spotlight. Consistently Solid - Kurt Masur and others conduct Mendelssohn, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... too often short on graciousness, charm or buoyancy.'
Ensemble. Energy and Imagination - Beethoven from Louis Lortie, Kurt Masur and the Cleveland Orchestra, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
CD Spotlight. Richly Creative - Orchestral music by Bechara El-Khoury, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... a valuable addition ...'
Ensemble. An Intellectual Oasis - Lawrence Budmen returns to Tanglewood to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra
What makes a conductor? - 'Conductors in Conversation' by Jeannine Wagar, reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz
Ensemble. The freedom of jazz - 'All Rise', by Wynton Marsalis, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. Coming home - The Pablo Casals Cello Competition, reported by Tess Crebbin
Ensemble. Artistry and ambience - Exhilarating music making at Tanglewood, reported by Lawrence Budmen