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Kurt Masur
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    (July 18, 1927-December 19, 2015)
    Born in Brieg, Germany (now Brzeg, Poland)
    Conducted the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra (1955-58,1967-72), Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (1970-96), New York Philharmonic (1991-2002, London Philharmonic Orchestra (2000-07) and the Orchestre National de France (2002-08)
    Last name pronounced ‘mah-zoor’
    He served in the Wehrmacht during World War II.
    He supported East Germany’s Communist leaders for most of the country’s existence.
    He was behind the wheel in a car crash that killed his wife and the two occupants of a car he hit (1972).
    There were rumors (denied by Masur) that East German authorities covered up details of the accident to avoid embarrassing a favorite son.
    He walked off in the middle of a New York Philharmonic performance, irritated by coughing from the audience (1998).
    He originally trained as a pianist, but an injury in his teens to one of the tendons in his right hand made performing impossible, so he concentrated on conducting.
    His attitude towards the Communist regime started changing after he joined a campaign to prevent harassment of street musicians by police in Leipzig (1989).
    He negotiated a peaceful end to an anti-government demonstration in Leipzig, preventing a potential bloodbath by state security forces (October 9, 1989).
    He conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the celebration of German reunification (October 3, 1990).
    He was credited with restoring the New York Philharmonic to the rank of a world-class orchestra.
    He led the New York Philharmonic in a moving performance of Brahms’ German Requiem for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

Credit: C. Fishel

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