Remembering Lorin Maazel

As we look back on our 87th summer and forward to our 88th, we must take a moment to note the passing of conductor Lorin Maazel this summer. Maazel made his debut with the National High School Orchestra at Interlochen when he was only eight years old. He took the podium holding a baton that was nearly as long as he was tall.

Maazel returned to Camp in 1987 to conduct WYSO and celebrate the Camp’s 60th anniversary. In the nearly five decades between his Interlochen visits Mr. Maazel’s world-wide career of performance and recording had surpassed that of any other American conductor, with the possible exception of Leonard Bernstein or James Levine.

This summer I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Richard Cogdal, someone who played a key role in Maazel’s early Interlochen performances. Richard had worked as the Bowl stage manager at Camp from 1935 to 1939. The Bowl was the only large performance venue in those early years, and Mr. Cogdal was such an integral part of the process that Dr. Maddy lodged him and his only assistant in a small room in the Harp Building that was then directly behind and only inches away from the Bowl.

At the close of his final summer, Cogdal played a major role in planning the journey to New York City for Lorin, Dr. Maddy, and the entire Camp staff to present 11 concerts at the World’s Fair in August, 1939.

The Interlochen group traveled together on a special train consisting of seven passenger cars, two dining cars, and two boxcars loaded with instruments and baggage. The students performed ten large ensemble concerts in three different venues, three of which were broadcast on the NBC Blue or Red networks. The final concert on Sunday afternoon included a more mature Lorin Maazel (he was 9 by that time) conducting the orchestra in Schubert’s “Rosamunde” Overture. Dr. Maddy also conducted a performance of Les préludes, the only year it was not played on the Interlochen campus.

The timing of Interlochen’s history with Maestro Maazel is also remarkable: it was a pivotal time for both Interlochen and the young conductor as we both emerged onto the national and international stage. We are sad to lose a friend and colleague but honored to have shared a chapter of history with one of the musical greats of our time.