Kurt Masur: German Conductor, Leader of Renown Orchestras Dies at 88

Kimberly RipleyLife

Share this Post

Kurt Masur, a German conductor who guest-led orchestras all over the world, has died at the age of 88. In 2012 he announced he had suffered from Parkinson's disease for several years.

The only conductor to hold the title of Music Director Emeritus of the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur had also been music director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, as well as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Back in 1989, when demonstrations against East Germany's communist government threatened to become violent, Kurt Masur issued a message from himself and other leading citizens over public loudspeakers. He asked all sides to forego violence, and to instead remain calm and have a peaceful dialogue.

During an interview in 2010 with Der Spiegel, Kurt Masur recalled that day.

"It was a peaceful revolution," he said. "And it was proof that people in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) had learned to act in a very politically deliberate way. I'm still impressed by how smart they were--and by the way the security forces remained calm. On that day, not even a single window was broken."

That same night, Kurt Masur led his orchestra.

"The revolution was Monday evening and, by Tuesday morning at the latest, everyone went back to work as usual. I will never forget that concert," he said.

A month later, the Berlin Wall came down.

Kurt Masur recorded dozens of albums throughout his career. In addition, he "led the Philharmonic in 909 performances; hired 42 Philharmonic musicians; led the Orchestra on 17 tours around the world, traveling to 75 cities in 30 countries, including the first-ever Philharmonic concerts in mainland China; and expanded the Philharmonic's education programs," according to a biography provided by the New York Philharmonic.

A guest book for fans, friends, and family members to sign is available on Kurt Masur's website. He is survived by his wife, Tomoko Masur, and his son Ken-David Masur, who is also a conductor.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.