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Kurt Masur: ‘I have Parkinson’s. It won’t change my life.’

The doyen of German conductors, 85 and beating strong, suffered a setback earlier this year when he fell off a podium in Paris, breaking a shoulder. Happily, he is fully recovered from the fall but there has been a flutter of speculation about his health in irresponsible media outlets that has upset the maestro and his family. So, in typically forthright fashion, he has asked Slipped Disc to post a notice, stating the plain truth about his health.

His decision is both courageous and unusual in a profession that generally hides behind equivocations and euphemisms. But that is the Kurt Masur that I know and warmly admire: frank, fearless and ever ready to confront reality, whatever it may yield.

He is living with Parkinson’s and will carry on making music so long as life permits. We wish him the very best of health.

Here is the statement, which his office is sending out today to the orchestras he works with most:


Dear Colleagues, Musicians and beloved audiences,


These past several months I experienced a joyful and for me personally very touching return to the podium since my accident in Paris last April 2012. Two subscription concerts and a gala with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in celebration of my 85th birthday, the beginning of a Parisian Brahms cycle with the Orchestre National de France, a masterclass with the Baltic Youth Orchestra at the Usedom Festival in Germany and a wonderful reunion with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in July 2012.


It is at this time, after serious reflection, I have decided, together with my wife Tomoko and my family, to officially announce that I have been living with Parkinsons Disease for the past few years. I have had the fortune of receiving great medical care since the diagnosis, enabling me to continue my conducting activities. These recent events have served as a good opportunity to make a return to the podium with a greater sense of purpose and awareness.


Making music is my life and I consider it a great privilege and deep joy to be able to continue doing what I love the most. My family and I thank you for your support and understanding. My fall schedule and the rest of the season remain as announced on my home page and I look forward to sharing this coming season with you all.




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  1. Stuart Green says:

    How wonderfully brave and what a positive response.

  2. eitan bezalel says:

    What a GREAT musician is Maestro Masur!!!!! I have worked with him with the Israel Philharmonic as a guest principal Trombone on a Tour in Koln Germany, also with my orchestra in Firenze doing the Beethoven 9th- what a wonderful, honest & a real musician he is!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Bravo, Maestro! A wonderful musician and I look forward to seeing him in performance again soon.

  4. Dr. Marc Villeger says:

    Maestro Masur programmed Schnittke Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1 with Natalia Gutman when he was in charge of the NYPhil… back in 2002. Unforgettable!

  5. Still an underestimated conductor, IMO.

  6. He is a great man, but it was no secret to those who worked with him over the last years, that he had Parkinson. It was pretty obvious for the last 5 years or so.
    Saw and heard him conduct Tchaikovsky Pathetique years ago with his Gewandhaus, it was one of those “special” concerts, he was trembling and shaking and when the final movement subsided, that composed death of a human being, it felt heavy and solemn. Like his last concert. But he surprised us with much more to come. All the best, Maestro!

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