In honor of what would have been Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur’s 91st birthday, Google’s doodle team put together an elegant black-and-white illustration of the director’s “robust conducting style” on its homepage.
The world-renowned conductor was born on July 18, 1927, in Brieg, Germany — now known as Brzeg in Poland — and rose to prominence in the 1970s after learning piano, cello and composition throughout the 1940s.
According to the Google blog, “a damaged tendon in his right hand at the age of 16 ended his playing career, but propelled Masur to concentrate on conducting.”
Before joining and invigorating New York Philharmonic as music director in 1991, Masur spent several years conducting in East German opera houses and in the prestigious Dresden Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Masur’s repertoire often featured the works of Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler.
In an interview with British music critic Hilary Finch, Brittanica Encyclopedia reported, Masur described the mission of the conductor to reel the audience in: “For that it takes inspiration from the conductor—but also the spirit, the imagination of the orchestra.”
Along with his globally-recognized passion for music and conducting, Masur was also a decorated humanitarian.
In 1989, the musician spoke out against Communist Soviet rule and helped facilitate meetings with political leaders and protesters.
After becoming the New York Philharmonic’s music director two years later, he also led the nationally televised 9/11 memorial performance of Brahm’s “German Requiem.”
“The maestro is remembered for his belief in the power of music to ‘bring humanity closer together,’” the Google doodle team wrote in its blog.
Masur died in Greenwich, Connecticut, from complications due to Parkinson’s disease on Dec. 19, 2015. Masur was 88.
In his New York Times obituary penned by Times’ Margalit Fox, Masur was described as the New york Philharmonic music director “credited with transforming the orchestra from a sullen, lackluster ensemble into one of luminous renown.”
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