Three months after falling and fracturing his shoulder blade during a concert in Paris, the conductor Kurt Masur is scheduled to make an early return to the podium at the Tanglewood Festival on Sunday, with some help from family. Sharing the conducting duties with him will be his son, Ken-David Masur.
“I hope it will be okay,” said Kurt Masur, in a phone interview on Thursday, one day after his 85th birthday. “I would like the audience to forget that the conductor, when he comes on stage, had an accident."
The German conductor said that he's feeling "okay" and dismissed the significance of his early exit from the disabled list. He was not expected to be on the podium until September at the earliest. “I don’t want to be a conducting sensation because I’m standing on my feet,” he added. “I would like to ignore that I had some problems.”
Masur, who has battled health problems, declined to discuss his recuperation further. In an e-mail, Stefana Atlas, the conductor’s operations director, said his shoulder blade was fully healed but he is proceeding cautiously. “We are all waiting to see how it goes and how he feels before we concentrate on his fall schedule,” she wrote.
Masur was leading the Orchestre National de France in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 on April 26, when his foot slipped and he fell into the space between the stage and the front rows of the audience at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. A protective railing behind the podium was in place but he plunged sideways, towards the first violinists, who were unable to catch him. He cancelled all engagements through the summer.
The elder Masur was to have led the entire all-Mozart program at Tanglewood but his son was called up to lead the first half, which features the Piano Concerto No. 24, with Gerhard Oppitz as soloist, and Eine kleine Nachtmusik. After intermission, Kurt Masur will conduct Mozart’s Symphony No. 36, "Linz."
The concert marks the third joint appearance between the father-and-son conductors, the first being in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and the second in Tel Aviv in 2010. Ken-David Masur, who is artistic director of the Chelsea Music Festival in New York and principal guest conductor of the Munich Symphony, studied conducting with his father. This will mark his Boston Symphony debut. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Kurt Masur, who was the music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002, said he has no plans to retire or slow down. “Day by day you can come back to the idea of making music again. We will follow as it was before.”
Update 7/23: Sunday's Tanglewood concert went ahead as scheduled, with Kurt Masur leading the second half of the program in Mozart's "Linz" Symphony. In the Schenectady Gazette, music critic Leslie Kandell writes, "The elder Masur, frail only in body, was in complete charge of the Linz Symphony, which was clean and stirring... There's no substitute for a lifetime of smart experience, and the audience, which stood when Masur came slowly onstage, sprang up with noisy enthusiasm when the symphony concluded."