The Shmooze

Lorin Maazel Remembered as Conductor, Friend of Israel

By Masha Leon

  • Print
  • Share Share
karen leon

Lorin Maazel, cerebral conductor — who died aged 84 on July 13 from complications of pneumonia — was a presence in my columns not only because of his international renown and as conductor of the N.Y. Philharmonic, but also because of his support of Israel’s cultural and humanitarian institutions.

At the January 23, 2003 joint Israel Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic Orchestras Gala benefit, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the black tie audience with: “In New York you get a great deal, two for one! Two conductors — Zubin [Mehta] and Lorin [Maazel] —and two mayors” — a reference to his Tel Aviv-Jaffa counterpart, mayor Ron Huldai.

“It’s the first time in twenty years that both perform together — a symbol of our love for each other, our cities, our countries and our peoples,” said Bloomberg.

While both orchestras, on their feet, performed thrilling renditions of “Hatikvah” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” Huldai touted New York and Tel Aviv-Jaffa as “standing for diversity and tolerance” adding: “We have always valued music and not the sounds of war…. We have one objective — to keep playing even with gas masks on.”

With Mehta conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Maazel conducting Mahler’s First Symphony, I remember my amusement at the Yiddish-sounding German program notations for Mahler’s opus — “langsam shleppen” (literally “drag slowly”). But, on a serious note, what was shocking to the guests were the rifle-toting police and sharpshooters surrounding Tavern on The Green’s huge tent for the post-concert dinner because of the presence of a significant number of Israeli diplomats. Inside the tent Mehta schmoozed and joshed with the guests — a cool Maazel accepted compliments from admirers.

At the January 20, 2007 Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Benefit Concert for Meir Panim Relief Center in Israel, as Maazel came out on stage at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium, someone behind me quietly hummed the refrain from the 1950’s hit “You Gotta Have A Little Mazel.” After a flawless rendition of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 which was followed by a standing ovation, the audience was informed that Meir Panim was “the biggest, not-for-profit food and aid organization of its kind in Israel benefitting largely secular Jews… often Russian as well as Ethiopian immigrants while also serving non-Jews — Arabs, Druze, Bedouins.

A most poignant memory — and my last sighting of Maazel — was at the December 2008 America-Israel Cultural Foundation’s Aviv Award Celebration held at Jazz at Lincoln Center Rose Theater. Award honoree Maazel declared: “There is nothing more distressing as arriving at an age when they begin to give you prizes and honors.”

Music director of the New York Philharmonic, Maazel mused: “I think I am no different than my colleagues who perform… complain… move into the next day-after-day… season-after-season…” After accepting the Aviv award from pianist “Jonathan Bliss” — himself a winner of the 2005 Leonard Bernstein Award — Maazel walked off the stage and notwithstanding thunderous applause — did not return for an extra bow.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print



Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.