The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Japan brandname firms shut China plants after protest violence
Crude oil ought to be $150 per barrel: Iran
16 Sep 2012
Japan's ambassador-designate to China dies in Tokyo - ministry
16 Sep 2012
Muslim protesters rage at United States in Asia, Middle East
Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander says its troops in Syria
16 Sep 2012
U.S. ambassador to Libya, three staff killed in rocket attack
Egyptians angry at film scale U.S. embassy walls
U.S. embassies attacked in Yemen, Egypt after Libya envoy killed
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more | Photo caption
Return of Occupy
Protesters return to the streets to mark the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Slideshow
Will & Kate's Asia tour
The royal couple are on a nine-day tour of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Slideshow
Frail but feisty Masur opens Baltic music festival
Hungary chamber festival: expect the unexpected
Thu, Aug 23 2012
German conductor Kurt Masur gestures in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro June 1, 2007.
Credit: Reuters/Sergio Moraes
By Michael Roddy
PEENEMUENDE, Germany |
Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:30am EDT
PEENEMUENDE, Germany (Reuters) - German conductor Kurt Masur, 85, frail but feisty as he opened the Usedom Music Festival in Germany by leading the Baltic Youth Philharmonic in Shostakovich's First Symphony, attributed his recovery after a severe fall partly to the power of music.
Masur injured his shoulder when he fell off a stage in Paris in April. He had to be helped to the podium on Saturday night for the opening concert in the vast turbine hall of a former power station that served the Nazi rocket program on the Baltic Sea island during World War Two.
Summoning up some of the vigour that made him a leading dissident as a young man in then-communist East German, Masur - startling the packed first-night crowd - in mid-concert shouted out "one" to the orchestra, to get the players back on beat.
In keeping with the history of the locale, Masur also made certain all of the piece's dark details, especially a kettle-drum roll that sounds like artillery fire, and which he forced the percussionist to perform a half dozen times in rehearsal, came through in the energetic playing of the youthful ensemble.
"If you love music and you like to listen to music you can be helped by music but if you have nothing of that you have a problem," Masur told Reuters before the concert, when asked how he found the energy to carry on.
The festival, in its 19th season, brings a high level of music-making to the island, a popular tourist destination during the summer months. This year's festival, which runs until Oct 7, explores relationships between German and Russian music and also featured master classes with Masur for seven young conductors.
"He really imparts knowledge no one else could give us," Gemma New, 25, of Wellington, New Zealand, the only woman conductor among the seven, said.
Masur, who lived much of his life in communist East Germany and helped to mitigate violence during its turbulent collapse before going on to a distinguished career in the West as music director of the New York Philharmonic, and later as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, said not everything had changed for the better with communism's demise.
"I get a cultural shock because then I only feel that nobody of you really understands what it meant in a socialist country," he said when asked about the aftermath of the end of communism. "In East Germany everybody had work and money, not very rich but fine, good enough. And I think we have to face the fact that not everybody who's free is happy."
As for why, at his age and in frail health, he keeps up a strenuous conducting schedule, leading the youth orchestra and holding master classes for younger conductors, Masur said he feels it is part of his calling to help the next generation.
"I don't like them to be hopeless and lost because normally they get a good education, then they get out and they get no position or they are just suffering to get a position in a good orchestra and then what should they do? They try to get money in any way and then for me the problem is how will the future look?"
The musicians, but especially the young conductors, were hugely appreciative of his efforts.
Kah Chun Wong, 25, of Singapore, said Masur had instilled in him "a religious passion for music", and he was moved by his "relentless energy to deliver what the composer wants, even when he's 85".
Johannes Zurl, 32, of Germany, said Masur had impressed upon him "the simplicity of conducting".
"Sure, he's an older guy and he's not jumping around, but I am extremely inspired to make an effort to bring out more with less," he said.
The young conductors took turns leading sections of the opening piece, Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", and were enthusiastically applauded for their round-robin effort.
Of course, with an orchestra of more than 90 young people, there was more on the agenda than just making music.
"The main thing for me is the people that you meet," said Jason Denner, 27, a San Diego clarinetist now based in Berlin.
"It's in one sense the connections for work, but also you meet some really pretty cool musicians. For a long time this orchestra has attracted the type of person who is willing to take a lot of risks and wants to do things a little bit differently and doesn't necessarily want to be first chair in the Berlin Philharmonic."
Festival director Thomas Hummel said the event has been growing in importance year by year and now had visitors from as far away as the United States, though most of the audience comes from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"Not many islands have a festival like this," he said.
Having Masur conduct was a draw, but it had its downside, at least for those sitting in the back rows of the orchestra, which was founded in 2008 by the festival and Baltic gas pipeline company Nord Stream AG.
"For me he gives us the impulses but not much more," bass trombonist Ingrid Utne, of Stavanger, Norway, said. "I think there would be more in it for me if I could hear what he's saying all the time."
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.