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Lorin Maazel: Reflections From the Orchestra

By Lucy Kraus
07 Jun 2009

Lorin Maazel
photo by Chris Lee

As Lorin Maazel enters his final week leading the Philharmonic, the musicians express their admiration for the maestro. Here is what a few orchestra members have said about Mr. Maazel as he leaves for new musical adventures.


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From the start of his tenure as Music Director, Lorin Maazel has always expressed his admiration for the New York Philharmonic. “This is the first orchestra I have really and truly fallen in love with,” he has said. “I have unbounded admiration for the technical capacity of each individual and — for want of a better word — their esprit de corps. They have a great sense of mission, and this pride exhibits itself at every moment. I'm very fond of them personally — a fine group of people, very intelligent, very savvy. I know that I shall be leaving with the feeling that I have been privileged to work with such an august group for seven years.”

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“It has been the greatest pleasure to work with Maestro Maazel. He is a consummate musician and conductor, and I am astounded at his thorough knowledge of the score. Because of this, he is able to convey all the intricacies of his musical ideas through the tip of his baton. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with this amazingly talented man.”
— Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone

“The tenure of Lorin Maazel as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic could be called the confluence of a mellow, well-seasoned mastery and a sparkling virtuoso instrument. The result has been music-making of unprecedented nuance, power, and flexibility. I count myself fortunate that I have been here to be part of it.”
— Carter Brey, Principal Cello

“I have long been in awe of Lorin Maazel’s brilliance. He possesses a prodigious baton technique that allows him to communicate all of his interpretive ideas clearly and effortlessly. Maazel is without doubt one of the most commanding conductors I have ever played with.”
— Glenn Dicterow, Concertmaster

“I feel privileged having known and worked closely with a musician of the stature of Lorin Maazel; what an incredible musical mind!”
— Robert Langevin, Principal Flute

“Speaking as a member of the woodwind section, I think Mr. Maazel has done more than any other conductor to improve the quality of our sound. We feel ‘safe’ when we play with him, as we always know exactly where to place the beat, and he always lets us feel that we can play with beauty and expression. When I hear the New York Philharmonic on the radio, I am overwhelmed by how lush and exciting it sounds.”
— Judith LeClair, Principal Bassoon

“It has been a great privilege for me to work with Maestro Lorin Maazel. His ability to explicitly read the score of any musical style and his great musicianship make our Orchestra one of the best in the world. I feel honored to be a part of such a talented group.”
— Eugene Levinson, Principal Bass

“I offer my most sincere congratulations to Maestro Maazel for his excellent leadership as the Philharmonic’s Music Director for the past seven years. His skills as a conductor and his leadership from the podium are unsurpassed, and he has provided me with many, many, wonderful memories and experiences with the Philharmonic.”
— James Markey, Bass Trombone

“More than any other conductor I’ve worked with, Maestro Maazel rehearses both the composition and the Orchestra. These are two different things, and his ability to treat them individually has resulted in the quality of his performances with the Orchestra. I think it is an approach to conducting that is unique. He is a joy to work with.”
— Philip Myers, Principal Horn

“Maestro Lorin Maazel has been a very important part of my musical life since the day he hired me in the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1989. He also invited me to record my first CD in his personal concert hall at his home, which happens to be one of the best chamber music halls in the world.  Lorin Maazel has incredible hand-and-stick technique unmatched by anyone, an incredible ear for pitch, and fantastic rhythm. He will be missed in New York.”
— Mark Nuccio, Associate Principal Clarinet

“Lorin Maazel has been a warm, generous Music Director — one who has brought an incredible level of expertise and commitment to us. He has indisputable musical gifts that have been an outstanding example and inspiration to me.”
— Cynthia Phelps, Principal Viola

“Maestro Maazel’s presence is so powerful that, without a word having been spoken, you want to play your best for him. His precision and control are incomparable. After several years of working with him I’m beginning to understand that the dimensions of his repertoire are endless. Under his baton, the concerts are always unforgettable.”
— Markus Rhoten, Principal Timpani

“It has been a privilege to work with Maestro Maazel. His understanding and command of the orchestra are truly outstanding. The performances of Elektra earlier this season clearly demonstrated not only his skill as a conductor, but also the immense musical knowledge that he brings to the podium.”
— Fiona Simon, Violin

“As a member of the horn section, it has been great to be able to play so much of the standard repertoire, and a fair amount of the not-so-standard repertoire, with a conductor who loves to hear the horns. There is this perfect match between the way he likes an orchestra to sound and the sound of the New York Philharmonic.”
— R. Allen Spanjer, Horn

“Maestro Maazel has shaped and guided me as an artist and an oboist in a direction that I didn’t know existed. He has inspired me to be better every day. I am hoping to share those fruits with my colleagues in the New York Philharmonic for many years to come.”
— Liang Wang, Principal Oboe

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Maazel ends his tenure conducting sold-out performances of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand June 24-27.  For information, visit New York Philharmonic.



Lucy Kraus is the Senior Publications Editor at the New York Philharmonic.


Lorin Maazel with Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow
photo by Chris Lee




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