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Maazel back to Munich?

Well, that was a short retirement. Lorin Maazel, 79, who appeared to view his tenure at the New York Philharmonic as the culmination of an illustrious career, may be returning to Munich for a three-year, interim term as music director of the Munich Philharmonic, according to today's Süddeutsche Zeitung (as reported by

He would succeed Christian Thielemann, who was unable to negotiate a contract to his liking and is leaving at the end of the 2011 season to take over the Dresden Staatskapelle. The orchestra has not officially announced the appointment, but Munich's mayor, Christian Ude, and his press spokespeople appear to have spilled the beans.

Maazel was for nine years music director of another, better orchestra in Munich, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, now led by Mariss Jansons). The Munich Philharmonic was long headed by the eccentric Sergiu Celibidache, whose quasi-mystical approach inspired a veritable cult following among some and left others unimpressed; James Levine then used it as a stepping-stone on his way to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, before Thielemann took over. But Munich is a comfortable city, and the Philharmonic pays well, and the Castleton Festival can't occupy all of Maazel's time and considerable energy.

Edited to add: I should have posted this earlier: Maestro Maazel's Facebook fan page includes this statement: "Though an approach was made by the city of Munich inquiring whether I'd consider the Music Director position of the Munich Philharmonic, there is no agreement in force in this respect at this time. I have no further comment."
Maazel, by the way, has an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, though he almost certainly does not write the majority of his posts himself.

By Anne Midgette  |  February 24, 2010; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  international , news  
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Why don't you do an article about something critical that will affect numerous arts organizations in our area: the proposed slashing of the Virginia Commission for the Arts budget by 50% this year, and the complete elimination of the Commission in 2011? This so-called "savings" will have a devastating effect on the arts in Virginia, cost thousands of arts-related and arts-associated jobs, and have a resulting effect on local economies and tourism.

Please, Anne, we need you to bring this to light. The House of Delegates votes on this tomorrow, Thursday, February 25th.

Posted by: MakeItFairEqual | February 24, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Maazel wasn't exactly short of engagements after he left the NY Phil - though I don't know why he wasn't invited as guest conductor. Next season for example he will lead the Philharmonia in the complete cycle of Mahler's symphonies.

The interesting thing about Maazel is that many of his guest engagements in Munich were not with his old orchestra, that of the Bavarian Radio, but with the Munich Philharmonic (Eugen Jochum did that as well - on occasions.) Now I am speaking from memory, but I do follow the programs of both orchestras, and I don't remember that Maazel conducted the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in the last few seasons.

I love the Munich Philharmonic because it is an orchestra that has preserved its own sound. I heard rumors about a possible U.S tour under Thielemann; with him gone, I surely hope that the tour would materialize under Maazel.

And I also hope to have Thielemann back for more concerts in the U.S. His repertoire is limited, and he does only a few things well: Bruckner, Strauss, Pfitzner, occasionally even Beethoven. Yes, I suffered through my share of disappointing Thielemann concerts, but I am willing to sit through them again in exchange for another chance at his marvelous Frau ohne Schatten.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | February 24, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Sergiu Celibidache, whose quasi-mystical approach..."

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | February 24, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Hmm... I've seen Maazel live once in Mahler 9 with the LSO, which was a memorable performance. However, judging from Maazel's tenure and tour programs with the NY Phil, it would seem likely that he would bring in more conservative programming for Munich, which already has conservative programming covered with Jansons. I wonder if this was considered when Maazel was up for consideration? Thoughts?

Posted by: derekh | February 24, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that James Levine used his post as music director of the Munich Philharmonic as a "stepping stone" to becoming music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra -- nor needed to use it.

Posted by: threeBs | February 25, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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