Part IV: Kurt Masur

Biographical note

Born in Brieg, Silesia in 1927, Mr. Masur studied piano, composition and conducting at the Music College of Leipzig. In 1955 he was appointed conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic and in 1958 he became Director of Music at the Mecklenburg State Theatre of Schwerin.

From 1960 to 1964, Mr. Masur was Senior Director of Music at Berlin's Komische Oper. From 1967 to 1972 he was the chief conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic.

Mr. Masur has conducted most of the world's leading orchestras and has been conductor of the New York Philharmonic since 1991, a post that he holds concurrently with that of Musical Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. He has made more than 100 recordings, including the complete symphonies of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky performed with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

In 1989 he played a leading role in the democratic movement that swept through Eastern Europe. In his hometown of Leipzig, he was instrumental in defusing potential confrontations as the old East Germany collapsed and became a symbol of the country's new aspirations.