Maazel consolidates China market

Maazel consolidates China market


norman lebrecht

February 10, 2014

The Boston Symphony has announced an upcoming tour of China, its first since the ice-breaker visit of 1979.

Who’s conducting?

Who do you think? For some reason Lorin Maazel is the #1 choice of US orchs and Chinese promoters. We’ve noted his China popularity before but it does seem odd that Boston, which has a proud China link but no Maazel history, should choose him above all available maestros.

maazel masterclass


  • Manu says:

    “for some reason”… Let me think… maybe because he’s simply the best out there?!

  • Steve says:

    Maazel has conducted the BSO around 1961, 1973, 2009 and 2011.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    When Maazel is on form, there is really nobody around to touch him: nobody has such a phenomenal control of the orchestra. However, it is also true that on occasions he can be less than inspired and appears to go through the motions on auto-pilot. Not bad for someone coming up to 84, though. Don’t your granddads of a similar age have off-days too? Let’s hope that when he next tours China he will give the kind of performances that have already put him up there in the Hall of Fame.

  • Pixy Harris says:

    He’s a great conductor. Have you heard his recent Munich Bruckner set? Though already an admirer, I was surprised at the quality and insight of playing (and recording). He may have started conducting as a boy but he didn’t start in the cradle!

  • Peter says:

    Whatever you think about Maazel’s musical skills, he is a smart operator. He has invested lots of time over many years conducting Chinese orchestras, when many other famous names were (and still are) routinely snobbish about the whole idea.

  • ed says:

    Frankly, it is still a marvel to see him working so indefatigably at his age, and continue to have great moments. Also, I look at the nature and character of his impulse, as an aristocrat writing an opera based on Orwell’s 1984 at a time when the issues of control and surveillance were coming again to the fore- this could not have been an accident. And think about that great leap of creative thinking when he decided to take the New York Philharmonic to North Korea, a country so demonized and isolated. It could not have been the politically correct thing to do, at least for the Bush Administration. Yet, he had the courage and compassion to cross this cultural and political divide. And, at least from the video that was produced, the orchestra seemed inspired- it played better than I’ve heard in years- and the audience was mesmerized. For that, I have the greatest respect for Maestro Maazel, and I wager that none of it was lost on the Chinese.

  • David McLaren says:

    I was a violinist with the London Philharmonic for 40 years and thought Maazel great on his rare visits, however Norman, the Boston Symphony weren’t the ‘ice-breakers’ with their tour of China in 1979…WE were with our tour there in 1973, when we were the first Western orchestra to visit China following their cultural revolution…

  • ed says:

    That must have been an absolutely phenomenal experience. Have you thought of recording your reminiscences of the trip for others to enjoy and appreciate? Your orchestra was the first to visit- I think your tour predated that of the Philadelphia Orchestra by about 6 months. Yet, the latter visit was also an ‘icebreaker’ of sorts, its invitation having come on the heels of Nixon’s 1972 visit to China and the resulting Shanghai Accord. Maybe, however, the real icebreaker occurred in the Spring of 1971 on the ping pong ‘court’.

    I wonder if the Chinese invitation to your orchestra was informed by their memory of LPO violist Thomas Russell, who was also its brilliant manager before and during WWII, and then in the early post-war years. Russell was sacked for his communist beliefs, and, specifically, for a goodwill trip he took to China in 1952, even though his politics were not believed to have influenced his management of the orchestra. There is a nice chapter on the LPO and its early history in The Music Goes Round and Around by Basil Tschaikov at: