Born of Franco-Jewish parents at Neuilly on the outskirts of
In his thirties, with large-scale forces, he sensationally conducted Bach's B minor Mass. In his forties he was conductor of the Deutsche Oper,
It was with the critics - who thought they detected a certain superficiality in him - that he faced most of his problems. With a meticulous stick technique and utterly confident stage presence, he was just too good to be true. Although in his heyday he was artistic director of the
When, after the death of Herbert von Karajan in 1989, he expected to find himself appointed conductor of the
But as conductor of the
At the Edinburgh Festival, where he often appeared, he was considered good value. On one occasion, in the middle of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra at the Usher Hall, a viola player collapsed and had to be carried off the platform but Maazel never stopped conducting. He had an arresting presence, sometimes raising one leg while conducting and bringing it elegantly down again, and wielding his baton with an intricacy that had to be seen to be believed. Though Mahler and Ravel were among his specialities, he also conducted Gershwin and knew how to make the Cuban Overture (which he conducted in
He was married three times, his second wife being the pianist
Margalit was succeeded by the actress Dietlinde Turban Maazel, who joined him in running his farmhouse festival. She survives him, as do their two sons (one of them called Orson) and daughter, along with four children from his previous marriages.