Maazel came from a well-off family and got an early start, with music lessons of various kinds commencing at age 5, and he first stepped in front of an orchestra at 8. Every discussion of his work mentions his great technical skill and also his sometimes-eccentric interpretations.
For more, read these obits and other commentaries:
- Allan Kozinn, NY Times
- Anne Midgette, Appreciation at WashPost
- Anne Midgette, WashPost obit
- Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe
- Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Found in Anne Midgette's obit for Maazel; exclamation points mine:
Several times in the later stages of his career, Mr. Maazel announced that he was eschewing any further music directorships to devote himself more to composing, only to have his resolution overturned by an offer he couldn’t refuse. The clearest instance of this was when the New York Philharmonic — having ditched the 73-year-old Kurt Masur because they wanted a younger conductor — came calling for Mr. Maazel, who was 71. When Mr. Maazel’s father — by then 98 and a committed New Yorker — heard that his son was taking over the Philharmonic, he said: “Now that’s a job.” (Lincoln Maazel died in 2009, at 106.) [!!]I read the NYPO's statement on Facebook (!) but cannot find it on their web site. (NYPO: consider putting a link to your Newsroom page on the NYPO home page.)
It's apparent from the Post-Gazette obit that Maazel did a tremendous job of rebuilding the PSO.