Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)
The death has been announced of the great Italian maestro Claudio Abbado at the age of 80.
The son of a violinist and composer, he studied piano, composition, and conducting at the Milan Conservatory. He went on to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music and, in 1958, won the international Serge Koussevitsky Competition for conductors at the Tanglewood Music Festival, the result of which led to a number of operatic conducting engagements in Italy.
In 1963 he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Prize for conductors, allowing him to work for five months with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Abbado made his debut at La Scala in his hometown of Milan in 1960 and served as its music director from 1968 to 1986.
He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time in 1965 in a concert at the Salzburg Festival and became its principal conductor in 1971. He served as music director and conductor for the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991
In 1965, Abbado made his British debut with the Halle Orchestra, followed in 1966 by his London Symphony Orchestra debut. He continued to conduct on a regular basis with the LSO becoming its principal conductor from 1979 to 1988. From 1982 to 1986 he was principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
In 1989, the Berlin Philharmonic elected Abbado as its chief conductor to succeed Herbert von Karajan, a post he held until 2002. He very much enjoyed working with young musicians conducting the European Union Youth Orchestra and Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. He also established the Orchestra Mozart and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
Abbado was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2000. After recovery he formed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003 and served as music director of the Orchestra Mozart in Bologna, Italy. In September 2007, Abbado cancelled his future conducting engagements on the advice of his doctors but two months later he resumed conducting with an engagement in Bologna.
In August 2013 the President of Italy appointed him Senator for Life, Italy’s highest cultural award.
Claudio Abbado died in Bologna on 20 January 2014.
Daniel Barenboim said in a statement,"We have lost one of the greatest musicians of the last fifty years and one of the very few to have a close connection with the spirit of music in all its various forms."