Entertainment & Arts

Former LPO conductor suffers stage fall in Paris

Kurt Masur
Image caption Conductor Kurt Masur is not thought to have any serious injuries

The former principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra is recovering in hospital after falling off the stage at a concert in Paris.

Kurt Masur, who is 84, lost his balance while conducting the National Orchestra of France on Thursday night.

According to the orchestra's website, he is expected to be released soon.

France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has sent his best wishes to the German-born conductor, calling him a "legendary musician".

Image caption His tenure with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra was celebrated with a gala performance in 2007

Masur served as the principal conductor of the London Philharmonic between 2000 and 2007, after which he became honorary musical director at the Paris-based National Orchestra of France.

He celebrated his 80th birthday at the Proms in 2007 by leading both orchestras in Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and Bruckner's Seventh Symphony.

The London Philharmonic said the orchestra was "very concerned" to hear about his accident and wished Masur "a speedy and full recovery".

"During his legendary tenure as Principal Conductor, his concerts were always occasions of incredibly high quality music-making," she went on.

'Historic role'

Prior to Thursday's accident, Masur had been conducting Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony and Shostakovich's Symphony No 1.

A spokeswoman said he fell backwards some 1.5 metres into the front row of the audience at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees.

He was not found to have suffered any serious injuries.

"After a reassuring in-depth examination, [Masur] is resting in hospital," the orchestra said in a statement. "He took a few steps this morning and is expected to leave hospital soon."

Image caption Masur was music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002

Born in 1927 in what was then the German province of Silesia - now Brzeg in Poland - Masur studied piano and cello before becoming a conductor.

He served as conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra from 1955 to 1958 and again from 1967 to 1972.

In 1970 he was appointed music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, a position he held for 26 years before being named the orchestra's first conductor laureate.

While there he played a central role in the peaceful protests in Leipzig that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and attracted worldwide attention for the impact of his leadership.

He later moved to the US, where he became music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1991.

His accolades include the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, awarded in 1995, and his being named Commander of the Legion of Honour in France in 1997.

That rank was upgraded to Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour 10 years later.

In his statement, President Sarkozy praised Masur for his "historic role" in reconciling East and West Germany.

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