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     Maag, Peter (10th May 1919-16th April 2001) 

    He was a conductor born Ernst Peter Johannes Maag in St. Gallen, Switzerland into a musical family where his father Otto was a musicologist and Lutheran minister, his mother Nelly was a violinist who was second violin of the Capet Quartet and his uncle, Fritz Steinbach, was a conductor.


    He took studies in theology, philosophy, piano and theory at universities in Basel, Geneva and Zurich and then took further piano tuition in Paris.  He was also taught conducting and the association he had with his mentor Wilhelm Furtwangler was later described as “the most important in his life”. 


    It was Furtwangler that urged him to be a conductor after he observed him while he led a concert with Maag performing “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major” by Beethoven.  After taking his advice he joined the Swiss Theater Biel-Solothurn and became a repetiteur and was their conductor from 1943-1946.  During those years he also spent some time as assistant to Furtwangler.


    Sometime after 1946 he took on a further position as assistant.  This time to Ernest Ansermet at the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and made his first recordings with the orchestra in 1950.  He later joined the Dusseldorf Opera in 1952 as their first conductor.  He remained with them for three years before moving to the Bonn City Theater in 1955 as the Generalmusikdirektor and holding that position or the next four years.  From 1957 he also began recording with the London Symphony Orchestra and he cut two albums with the Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire.


    In 1959 he conducted Die Zauberflote by Mozart at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and shortly after led a performance of Le nozze de Figaro at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. That same year he debuted in the United States as a guest conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.  Another two years later he was back in the United States making his American opera debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Cosi fan tutte by Mozart at Chicago’s Lyric Theatre.


    Everything changed in 1962 when he decided to leave his career and retreated to the Greek Orthodox Church followed by a Buddhist monastery in Hong Kong for two years.  He returned to his job in 1964 when he became the Chief Conductor of the Vienna Volksoper.  He stayed there until 1968.


    When the 1970s came along he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Don Giovanni by Mozart in 1972.  Also in 1972 he went to Italy to work at the Teatro Regio di Parma as the Artistic Director.  Two years later he held the same position at Turin’s Teatro Regio and also worked with the city’s RAI Symphony Orchestra.  In Spain he performed with the Orquestra Nacional de Espana and in 1984 he took the position of Music Director with the Berner Symphonie-Orchester. 


    During this 7 year tenure with them he worked with many other opera companies and orchestras as a guest conductor and recorded with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra and the Veneto Philharmonic Orchestra along with many others.


    Recognised for his achievements and contribution to music he has been the recipient of the Verdi Medal  and the Toscanini Medal and Presentation Baton.


    He died in Verona, Italy in April 2001 when he was 81 years old and left behind his second wife and two children, with his son Georg being an author of children’s books.



    1. http://maagpictures.com/
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Maag
    3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/peter-maag-729291.html
    4. http://www.classicalarchives.com/artist/9333.html#tv=about
    5. http://www.naxos.com/person/Peter_Maag_30485/30485.htm
    6. http://www.tower.com/verdi-luisa-miller-peter-maag-cd/wapi/106016399
    7. http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=32657
    8. http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/BEETHOVEN_Norrington_Maag.htm





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