You might not recognize the man featured in today's artfully sketched Google Doodle, but you have probably heard his work. Kurt Masur, a German conductor, is largely credited with reviving the New York Philharmonic and restoring the orchestra to a status of worldwide recognition.
Masur, who stopped playing music as a teenager after injuring a tendon in his hand, picked up conducting and honed his skills at the Music College of Leipzig. After graduating, he conducted multiple East German orchestras and was eventually given a prestigious role leading the Leipzig Gewandhaus. According to NPR, some speculated Masur might have a political career in his future when, during the political unrest and fall of Communism in 1989, he helped facilitate conversations between protesters and political leaders.
He became the music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1991 and led the orchestra until 2002. In addition to earning rave reviews and introducing much-needed structure to the group, Masur exercised the same peace-keeping principles that he had in East Germany. After the September 11 attacks, he led a touching memorial performance of Brahm's "German Requiem." Reflecting on his power to bring people together, The New York Times said, "He also brought to the podium the ardent conviction that music-making was a moral act that could heal the world."
The conductor died from complications of Parkinson's Disease in December 2015. Today's Google Doodle, which "depicts the maestro’s robust conducting style", marks what would have been his 91st birthday.