Catching up with Kurt Masur is not easy. You'd think that following his pull-out-all-the-stops final season at the New York Philharmonic, where the Orchestra marked his departure as Music Director after 11 distinguished years, a hyperactive schedule, and tons of tributes, he'd take it easy. No way. Immediately after his departure from the Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France engaged him as its music director; he was already principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In just the last few months, he has led the LPO in the U.S., Singapore, Germany, Belgium, and a slew of European cities. He has led the Orchestre National de France in Hong Kong, and in May he takes the ensemble to‹fasten your seat belts‹Zagreb, Vienna, Regensburg, Prague, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.
But Masur makes time for the New York Philharmonic, and this month and next the Orchestra's Music Director Emeritus returns for three weeks of music-making.
"The Philharmonic is still very close to my heart and my memories. I am very excited about meeting them again‹to find, hopefully, our old connection," said Masur from Amsterdam, where he was conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Repertoire for Mr. Masur's homecoming will be extraordinary: world premieres of works by Lukas Foss and Siegfried Matthus, both commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to celebrate Masur's 75th birthday (see page 14), and the New York premiere of André Previn's Violin Concerto, performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter, for which Masur will turn over the podium to Maestro Previn. Maurizio Pollini will join Maestro Masur and the Philharmonic for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor," on a program shared with the Brahms Symphony No. 1. In addition, there are works by Bach, Dvorák, Schumann, and Handel.
The Matthus concerto for trumpet and trombone has particular resonance for the Philharmonic and Mr. Masur: it was composed for Orchestra principals Philip Smith and Joseph Alessi. "I had wanted to perform the Matthus double concerto while I was still at the Philharmonic because I had promised it to Philip Smith and Joe Alessi years ago, but the timing did not work out," said the Maestro. "We have chosen to make it my return, so now I will keep my promise. You know, we always had a wonderful feeling together, the New York Philharmonic and I. It will be very exciting to perform with the Philharmonic again."
Robert Sandla writes frequently about the performing arts.