Maazel will be with N.Y. Phil into 2009

From Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Philharmonic extended Lorin Maazel’s tenure as music director until 2009 and said Riccardo Muti and two American conductors will take turns with extended appearances on the podium, raising speculation about the orchestra’s next leader.

Maazel’s contract is being extended by three years, and he will step down at his request at the end of the 2008-09 season, when he will be 79, the orchestra said Tuesday.

“When he came to us originally, he thought he would do four years, but after the first few months, he realized how much he was liking it and we were liking him, and it became sort of a marriage made in heaven,” said Zarin Mehta, Philharmonic executive director. “At the end of the year, we talked to him about staying on longer than the four years.”


The Italian-born Muti, who had turned down an offer to succeed Maazel’s predecessor, will conduct the Philharmonic for four weeks per season, from fall 2006 through spring 2009.

David Robertson and Alan Gilbert will conduct for two-week stints each season during that time.

The special relationship with the three suggests that they would have an edge in succeeding Maazel.

“I hope they’re going to be in the mix, but I’m sure there will be others,” Mehta said.

Maazel, 74, was a surprise choice to replace Kurt Masur, who held the position 11 years, the orchestra’s second-longest tenure.

Muti, 62, has been music director at La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, since 1986 and was director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1980 to 1992.

The 45-year-old Robertson, who is known in particular for 20th century music, was recently named music director of the St. Louis Symphony, starting in September 2005. He made his New York Philharmonic debut in April 2001.


Gilbert, 37, is the incoming music director of the Santa Fe opera and is chief conductor and artistic advisor to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He led the New York Philharmonic in October 2001.