NEW YORK TIMES|
NOVEMBER 12, 1998
MASUR ACCEPTS 2d CONDUTING POST, IN LONDON
by Ralph Blumenthal
Kurt Masur, the music director of the New York Philharmonic since 1991, will become principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra as well, starting in 2000, Mr. Masur and officials of both orchestras said yesterday.
Mr. Masur said the five-year appointment to conduct a limited number of concerts would not affect his commitment to the New York Philharmonic, which recently extended his contract to 2002. "Nothing will be changed in my relationship with the Philharmonic," said Mr. Masur, 71, speaking last night from Munich.
"I love this orchestra very much," he said of the London ensemble, which has been without a music director since Franz Welser-Möst left in 1995. "The London orchestras are having their problems, and I will do everything I can to help them."
Members of the New York Philharmonic said last night that Mr. Masur had divulged the news to the orchestra a month ago, during its tour of Germany.
Mr. Masur has held down two jobs before, notably when he served as director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra while at the New York Philharmonic. But he gave up Leipzig in 1996 after a 26-year association, and he said yesterday that the London position would not be as demanding.
He is already booked for three concerts with the London orchestra this season, along with two tours, and five concerts next season. As principal conductor, he will conduct at least six concerts in his opening season of 2000-01.
The Philharmonic is in the early stages of a search for Mr. Masur's eventual successor, but Paul B. Guenther, the board chairman, said the search was unrelated to the London development. "It's good for him and ergo good for us," Mr. Guenther said. "There is nothing behind this."
A year ago, friction between Mr. Masur and the orchestra's management broke into the open when members of the executive committee, instead of routinely extending Mr. Masur's contract by another year, asked him to agree to step down as music director in 2000 and thereafter share the podium with guest conductors until a successor could take over. Mr. Masur, who had been seeking a five-year contract, summarily rejected the offer. Bruised relations were patched up with a contract that extended his directorship, at about $1.3 million a year, until 2002.