Lorin Maazel and The New York Philharmonic: The Pyongyang Concert

Wagner, Dvořák, Gershwin, Bizet, Bernstein

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Program notes

The historic concert of New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Who would have thought it? An American orchestra performing in North Korea! Hundreds of millions watched this historic New York Philharmonic concert on television in February 2008, and for a few hours the Cold War hostilities seemed to be forgotten. This memorable event is now available again on

Music became diplomacy when conductor Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, the USA's most eminent orchestra, opened the concert in the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre with both the American and the North Korean national anthems. The entertaining programme included music by Wagner, Dvořák, Gershwin, Bizet and Bernstein and prompted the North Korean audience to standing ovations. This courageous musical project also united Korean and American musicians, who, together, produced a technically brilliant performance. The musicians barely spoke to one another, communicating in exchanged glances and body language, and when Lorin Maazel raised his baton at the end of the concert and the orchestra embarked on "Arirang," a lilting folk song emblematic of the North and South Korean people, the audience was obviously touched.

This concert was first broadcast on on February 2008 and then again during the I ♥ New York Philharmonic festival on October 29, 2013.

Picture: © Chris Lee

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