What Kurt Masur said when they asked him to become German President

What Kurt Masur said when they asked him to become German President


norman lebrecht

December 20, 2015

I shared some memories of Kurt Masur on the BBC World Service last night.

You can listen here. It’s just five minutes.

kurt masur

photo (c) Lebrecht.co.uk


  • Anon says:

    When they asked me, I said “ask Kurt Masur”.
    Seriously, he wasn’t asked to “become” president. He was asked to run.
    In music he was a king, in democracy he was a common citizen.
    Why should he move down on the class ladder?

  • MacroV says:

    I love the quote I read where Sir Simon supposedly told him, when he was weighing running for President or going to the NY Philharmonic, “Kurt, don’t be under any misunderstanding about which would be more difficult.”

  • Anon says:

    Your tale, that he stopped a bloodbath in Leipzig, is inaccurate. The appeal for “No violence!” that night of October 9th was helpful, but not decisive. The mobilized “National Guard” around Leipzig was not ordered to interfere, because Berlin headquarters was waiting for a backing from Moscow for a violent “solution”, and Gorbachev told them in no uncertain terms, that they are on their own, he doesn’t back anything. Nobody in Berlin then was able to make that decision to use violence. If due to human empathy or lack of “courage” and fear for reprisals later, probably all being contributing factors, is not known.

    The public, particularly the media, likes these stories of singular prominent heroes, but its often not how it went in reality.

  • Anon says:

    Also your tale, that Masur was asked to be president of the united Germany is simply wrong. He was asked to be a candidate for the last few months of the East German Republic, DDR, of rthe time of transition until the official reunification in October 1990, not for President of the reunited Germany.

    Your lack of knowledge and proportion of wrong information is astonishing for someone who talks so confident and self-assured, please get your facts right.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Your anonymous arrogance far exceeds my alleged ignorance. I am going on information received from Masur himself on two separate occasions. He said he was asked to run for the presidency after reunification. Now what are your sources to the contrary?

      • Anon says:

        Not really. In 1999 there was an unofficial list of about 20 people that were named by one or the other party, Kurt Masur was on one of them. He declined early on before it could be considered seriously.

        More elaborate was the suggestion by several public figures and activists against the fallen East German regime, that Masur would be elected state president of East Germany (at that point nobody knew when the reunification would actually be achieved.)

        Vaclav Havel had been elected as Czech President and Masur – and artist with intellectual capacity and uncompromised morals like Havel – appeared to have the format and also the power to reconcile all sides. That did never materialize due to the speed with which the Kohl government pushed the reunification through.