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Maestro Lorin Maazel - 1930-2014

July 13, 2014
The Castleton Festival is sad to announce the passing of its founder and artistic director, the conductor, composer, musician and mentor Maestro Lorin Maazel.
Maestro Maazel died on July 13, 2014 in, Virginia, from complications following pneumonia. Maestro Maazel had been at his home, Castleton Farms, rehearsing and preparing for his annual Castleton Festival.

Maestro Maazel, age 84, was a world-renowned conductor, as well as being a composer, mentor, father and husband. He devoted more than 75 years of his life to music-making. A second-generation American born in Paris on March 6, 1930, Lorin 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 Arturo Toscanini. In the course of his decades-long career Maestro Maazel conducted more than 150 orchestras in no fewer than 5,000 opera and concert performances. He has made more than 300 recordings, including symphonic cycles of complete orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss, winning 10 Grands Prix du Disques.

During his career, Maestro Maazel served as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and General Manager of the Vienna State Opera, as Music Director of the Radio Symphony of Berlin, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, with whom he made an unprecedented visit to North Korea in 2008 to perform a concert broadcast on North Korean state television and internationally. In the last year he maintained an active conducting schedule, leading 111 concerts in 2013 alone, from Oman to Munich.

Maestro Maazel was also a highly regarded composer, with a wide-ranging catalog of works written primarily over the last 15 years. His first opera, 1984, based on George Orwell’s literary masterpiece, had its world premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and a sold-out revival at La Scala, Milan.

The Maestro was awarded Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur twice in France, the Bundesverdienstkreuz in Germany, the Premio Abbiati in Italy, the Commander of the Lion in Finland, the Großes Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich as well as the Honorary Membership of the Wiener Philharmoniker and Wiener Staatsoper in Austria, the Honorary Life Membership of the Israel Philharmonic in Israel, and together with Mae West and Pope John Paul II, the title of Kentucky Colonel.

With his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, he founded the Castleton Festival in 2009 and has held annual summer performances and training seminars since then in theatres he built on his Virginia farm. Recognizing the value of mentoring he himself benefited from as a youth, Maestro Maazel established the Castleton Festival with a mission: it would be a “vista-opener,” in his words, to nurture young musicians through mentoring and performing, and would draw audiences to performances showcasing young talent bringing fresh energy to classical music alongside established virtuosos such as Denyce Graves and Sir James Galway to Jeremy Irons and Lady Helen Mirren.

Addressing the audience at the June 28, 2014 opening night of the Castleton Festival, Maestro Maazel described working with the young orchestra and singers as a “more than a labor of love – a labor of joy.”

He is survived by daughters Anjali Maazel and Daria Maazel Steketee; son Ilann Maazel and daughter Fiona Maazel; his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, their sons Orson and Leslie, and their daughter Tara, and four grandchildren, Kiran, Owen, Calypso, and Sahara.

Friends wishing to honor Maestro Maazel may make a charitable donation to his legacy project, the nonprofit foundation for young performers, The Castleton Festival.