The second stamp in the series dedicated to Vienna’s New Year concerts depicts Lorin Maazel.
He was born in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and conducted his first New Year’s concert on 1 January 1980 after Willi Boskowski had turned down the opportunity. Maazel went on to direct the concert each year thereafter till 1986, and then again in 1994, 1996, 1999, and in 2005 he will conduct it for the eleventh time. He was made an Honorary Member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 2002.
Maazel began his career at an extraordinarily early age: He was given his first violin when he was only five years old and shortly afterwards started to learn the art of conducting under the tuition of Vladimir Bakaleinikoff. At the age of eight he directed a university orchestra and by the time he was fifteen he had already conducted almost all the major American orchestras. For example, it was none other than Arturo Toscanini himself who invited the then eleven year old Maazel to conduct the NBC orchestra. As a 17 year old he went to the University of Pittsburgh and studied languages, mathematics and philosophy. The rise of his career was henceforth unstoppable. In 1960 he became the first American ever to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival, and in 1963 he made his debut at the Salzburg Festival. But Maazel has never neglected his own instrument, the violin; he has played with many famous orchestras and composed several violin concertos. What is probably the world’s best known classical concert was first staged in a dark period of history. The performance on 31 December 1939 by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Clemens Krauss, was simply entitled “Special Concert” and represented a statement of faith in Austria, for only works by Johann Straub were played.