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BERLIN (AP) — Conductor Kurt Masur, who was credited with helping prevent the collapse of communism in East Germany from descending into violence and later reinvigorated the New York Philharmonic as music director, has died at 88.

Philharmonic President Matthew VanBesien says “it is with the deepest sadness that I write on behalf of the Masur family and the New York Philharmonic that Kurt Masur — our inspiring Music Director, 1991-2002, and Music Director Emeritus — passed away” Saturday.

He says Masur’s 11-year tenure, one of the longest in Philharmonic history, “both set a standard and left a legacy that lives on today.”

Masur also spent 26 years leading the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in eastern Germany. When Germany was reunited on Oct. 3, 1990, he directed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the celebration.