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Lorin Maazel dies at 84

Lorin Maazel, a conductor who held directorships of New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera, had been rehearsing for the annual month-long Castleton music festival, which is currently being held at his farm, when he was taken ill with pneumonia. He died of complications.

Maazel was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine in France in 1930 to Jewish American parents. His father worked as a singing teacher, his mother founded the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, and his grandfather, Isaac, was a violinist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Maazel was a child prodigy, making his podium debut at the age of eight and shortly afterwards touring America, conducting many of the country’s major orchestras.

In 1960 he became the first American to conduct at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in Germany. The venue is famous for being solely dedicated to the performances of operas by Richard Wagner.

He became the Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1965 to 1971 and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1975.

Mazaal succeeded George Szell as music director with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1972. It was during his tenure here that the first stereo recording of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess using an all-black cast was made.

The 1980s proved to be a particularly busy period for Maazel, who produced acclaimed recordings with many of the world’s finest orchestras.

In 2002, Maazel succeeded Kurt Masur as music director at the New York Philharmonic, and the Munich Philharmonic from 2011.

The very last concerts Maazel ever conducted were in March this year with the Philharmonia – Classic FM’s Orchestra on Tour – in Basingstoke, Leicester and London.

Maazel is survived by his wife Dietlinde Turban Maazel, and their two sons and daughter. Maazel had and three daughters and a son from previous marriages.