Lorin Maazel

Child Prodigy Becomes Internationally Renown Conductor

Born in Paris in 1930 Lorin Maazel grew up in Pittsburgh.  The gifted Maazel started violin lessons at age 4. He was proclaimed “the musical prodigy” with his acute pitch and memorization skills.  He began conducting lessons from Vladimir Bakaleinikoff the associate conductor of Pittsburgh Symphony at age 7.  At eight, he conducted Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony with the Idaho University orchestra.  He amazed the world as a nine-year-old prodigy when led the Interlochen Orchestra at the International Exposition New York. He guest conducted the NBC Symphony at Arturo Toscanini’s invitation at age eleven in 1941.  Lorin conducted the New York Philharmonic in 1942 and toured the United States with several orchestras including the Chicago Symphony.  He recorded his debut album as a violinist when he was 15.  Maazel continued his school education in Pittsburgh along with conducting lessons from Vladimir Bakaleinikoff.  He graduated high school at age 16.  Mazeel attended the University of Pittsburgh to study Languages, mathematics, and Philosophy graduating in 1950.  While at Pitt, he was a violinist and apprentice conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

In 1951, went to Italy to study on a Fulbright Scholarship. By 1953, he began appearing with many different European orchestras.  From 1965 to 1975, he was the general music manager of Deutsche Opera Berlin and top conductor of the Berlin Radio Orchestra.  He became the Cleveland Orchestra’s conduct in 1972.  In 1976 Maazel become a permanent guest conductor of the French National Orchestra and, in 1982, Maazel became a permanent conductor and music director of Vienna State Opera. He consulted for the Pittsburgh SO from 1984 until 1988 when he led the whole orchestra as the musical director. During his eight year role as musical director, he also worked with the Bavarian Radio SO as a top conductor in Munich. After spending 1993 to 2002 in and out of Germany, he went to work with the New York Philharmonic as a permanent conductor. Maazel recently completed his seventh and last season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. He became the Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic in 2012. 

Maazel is regarded as one of the most important conductor maestros of the 21st century.   He conducted more than 150 orchestras, more than 5000 operas and concerts. He won an MIDEM special award for his career as a conductor, violinist, and composer at the World Music Exposition in January of 2006.


Maestro Mazeel passed away on Sunday July 14 at his home in Virginia, suffering from pneumonia. He was 84. He had been rehearsing for the Castleton Festival, which he held on his farm. 

"I consider Lorin Maazel the greatest conductor of my lifetime."  "It used to be said that his beat was so clear that if the sound were turned off, a professional musician could identify the piece he was conducting just by watching his baton motions. His time with the Pittsburgh Symphony was, in my opinion, that orchestra's golden age." Robert Croan, a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette classical music critic.

"Maazel was as much a product of our city as the steel that poured from our mills and framed the concert halls of our nation.  His legacy as a musician and scholar will play on in the memory of the city that shaped him and which he ably served as the conductor and guide of its magnificent symphony orchestra." -Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Pittsburgh Post Gazettee July 15, 2014

Recordings Conducted by Maestro Maazel