Kurt Masur Named NY Philharmonic Music Director
NEW YORK (AP) _ Kurt Masur, who for 20 years has led the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, East Germany, was named Wednesday as the New York Philharmonic’s music director.
Masur, 62, will replace Zubin Mehta, who told the Philharmonic in November 1988 that he would leave as music director after the 1990-91 season.
Masur’s appointment is for five years and begins in the 1992-93 season, the Philharmonic’s 150th anniversary season. He will conduct for 14 weeks that season and spend four weeks here in other activities.
Stephen Stamas, chairman of the New York Philharmonic Society, announced the appointment on a day when Masur was in Paris.
Stamas said in a news conference that Masur will be ″music director designate″ in the 1991-92 season. He will conduct two weeks that season, which has been set for some time.
″We were aware he is a leader of the New Forum and hero of the revolution (in East Germany) and had non-musical interests that might have made it difficult for us to attract him to New York,″ Stamas said.
″He is still very active with the New Forum, which has decided not to become a political party. I believe he’ll maintain a healthy interest in what is going on in Germany, while his interests will be largely musical.″
Masur was born July 18, 1927, in Brieg, Silesia, now in Poland. He studied at the music college of Leipzig. From 1960 to 1964 he was senior director of music at Berlin’s Komische Oper and from 1967 to 1972 was chief conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic.
Stamas said that Masur will remain principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra through the 1993-94 season, its 250th anniversary, and will maintain some association there. He first conducted the New York Philarharmonic in June 1981 and has conducted 22 concerts here, most recently in January 1989.
Stamas said that conductors Colin Davis and Leonard Bernstein will give the New York Philharmonic more than their usual amounts of time during the changeover of music directors.
For the first time, a six-musician committee from the Philharmonic took part in the selection. Oboist Joseph Robinson said that three of them flew to Paris and talked to Masur on Monday, flying back for Tuesday night’s concert here and that the final decision was made after that.
Masur is married to soprano Tomoko Sakurai. They have a 12-year-old son. Masur also has four children from previous marriages.
Other candidates for the New York Philharmonic included Claudio Abbado, who was near signing with the orchestra when he was engaged to replace the late Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Rumors that Leonard Slatkin would be named did not stop even after his re- signing with the St. Louis Symphony.