The renowned conductor Lorin Maazel passed away yesterday at the age of 84 from complications following pneumonia. The maestro's illness followed fatigue after spending much of the spring flying back and forth for performances in Asia, Europe, and North America. He died at his home in Castleton Farms, Virginia, where he had been preparing for his annual Castleton Music Festival.
Born in Paris on March 6, 1930, Maazel started his career as a musical prodigy. He began violin lessons at the age of five and conducting lessons at the age of seven. He performed in his first public violin concert at the age of eight. By the time he was fifteen, he had conducted most of the major American orchestras.
During his 75-year career, Maazel served as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Opera Berlin and general manager of the Vienna State Opera. He was also Music Director for orchestras around the globe including the Radio Symphony of Berlin, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. He conducted 5,000 opera and concert performances and has made more than 300 recordings of orchestral works by composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss.
Over the past 15 years, the Maestro became a highly regarded composer. His first opera, based on George Orwell's novel "1984", premiered in 2005 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. He also composed "Music for Violincello and Orchestra, Op. 10", commissioned by the renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and "Music for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 11" for flautist James Galway.
Maestro Maazel and his wife Dietlinde Turban-Maazel founded the Castleton Festival in 2009 at his Virginia farm. Since then, he has held annual summer performances and training sessions. His goal was to nurture young musicians through mentoring and performance, and to draw audiences to performances featuring young talent. On June 28, 2014, the opening night of the festival, Maazel told the audience that working with the young musicians was "more than a labor of love - a labor of joy."
Maazel is survived by daughters Anjali Maazel and Daria Maazel Steketee; son Ilann Maazel and daughter Fiona Maazel; his wife, Dietlinde, their sons Orson and Leslie, and their daughter Tara, and four grandchildren, Kiran, Owen, Calypso, and Sahara.