Kurt Masur (†)

Honorary Conductor

Kurt Masur was closely associated with the Dresden Philharmonic, starting from 1955-1958 as a Second Conductor who enthused the orchestra as well as being able to win the audience over very quickly. His promotion to Principal Conductor (1967-1972) rung in a new era for the orchestra: he shaped its profile to a greater extent than most before or after, and in the space of just a few years left a lasting mark on the artistic work of the Dresden Philharmonic with his vibrant, energetic personality. In 1967, he founded the Philharmonic Choirs, thereby creating an opportunity to significantly expand the variety of the Dresden Philharmonic’s programme. In 1969, he opened the newly built Kulturpalast with a performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Under his direction, the orchestra was able to make significant progress in its performance, his concerts were nearly always sold out, and he started the intensive travel and recording activities, establishing the Dresden Philharmonic's reputation as an internationally leading orchestra in the Cold War era, and which it was able to draw on later. He will not least of all be remembered for his Mozart interpretations and Beethoven cycle, wherewith he both continued a Dresden tradition as well as enhancing it with completely new musical and artistic stimuli. In 1994, he was appointed Honorary Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic – another expression of his close mutual attachment with the orchestra.

He left something lasting with his musical work, and will always hold a very special place in the memory of musicians as well as a broad Dresden public.

Michael Sanderling, Principal Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic from 2011-2019, whose musical development is closely associated with Kurt Masur:

“I am very sad to have lost three people all at once with the death of Kurt Masur: The musician, conductor and humanist, who knew as few others do how to relay an important and profound message to the whole world with his respective music. The Honorary Conductor of our Dresden Philharmonic, who had not only decisively shaped the orchestra as its Principal Conductor almost half a century ago, but also left it with “something lasting”, such as the Kulturpalast he opened and Philharmonic Choirs he established. And the person, advisor, pedagogue, promoter and visionary Kurt Masur, who continued to play a decisive and important role in my own artistic life right to the end. Kurt Masur’s conviction and his claim to the power and impact of music will remain an incentive for us all!”

Ralf-Carsten Brömsel, Principal Concertmaster of the Dresden Philharmonic, already made his acquaintance as a child: “He’d become aware of me through a talent show on TV and then took me along to Bruckner recordings at Lukas Church and other rehearsals on the sly, so to speak. He was something of a paternal friend for me who provided me with a unique introduction to music. I am very grateful to him for this. Not only for me, but also for the orchestra, he was an affectionate yet strict teacher who first and foremost communicated his love of music and musicians. He burned for music through grave strokes of fate; I will always think of him with gratitude and great respect.”

In recent years, the bond between Kurt Masur and the Dresden Philharmonic has found a new expression that points to the future for orchestras and himself with the inception of the “Kurt Masur Academy – Orchestra Academy of the Dresden Philharmonic”.

Frauke Roth, the Director of the Dresden Philharmonic, about the founding of the Orchestra Academy: “As late as the end of September 2015, we were able to meet here in Dresden along with his wife Tomoko and Michael Sanderling. This is when we laid the foundation for giving young musicians from around the world an optimal start for their later career as orchestra musicians with the Orchestra Academy, in very close proximity to their future everyday working life in our tradition-steeped first-class orchestra. Particularly moving, especially from today’s perspective, was Kurt Masur’s final visit of the Kulturpalast construction site, with a look into the future concert hall. This had been his special wish.”