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Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado

(Born 1933 - Died Jan 20 2014)

Claudio Abbado was an Italian conductor.

Among many other achievements he served as music director at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera, and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra from 1989 to 2002.

Born in Milan, Italy, Claudio Abbado was the son of the violinist and composer Michelangelo Abbado, (who was also his first piano teacher).

In 1958 he won the international Koussevitsky Competition for conductors, which led to a number of operatic conducting engagements throughout  Italy, and in 1963 he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Prize allowing him to work for five months with the New York Philharmonic.
As a child Claudio Abbado recalled wanting to become a conductor after attending many orchestral rehearsals in Milan led by conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwängler.

He thought Toscanini was an abusive tyrant and Toscanini’s manner towards musicians repelled him. He much preferred the gentler manner of Bruno Walter who’s style he obviously emulated, being known for exhibiting a friendly, understated, and non-confrontational manner to orchestra’s in rehearsal.

His La Scala debut was in 1960 and he served as its music director from 1968 to 1986, conducting both traditional and modern repertoire as well as performing concerts.

He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in 1965 in a concert at the Salzburg Festival and served as the music director for the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991,  where he was associated with such notable productions as Mussorgsky's original “Boris Godunov,” & “Khovanshchina”, Franz Schubert's, “Fierrabras”, and Rossini's “Il Viaggio a Reims”.

From 1979 to 1986 he worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With both orchestras, Abbado made a number of notable recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. 

In 1989, he was elected chief conductor to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra following the end of the Herbert von Karajan era. He held the position until 2002.
Abbado was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2000. Following treatment and during his recovery period he formed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003.

He also continued to serve as music director of the Mozart Orchestra of Bologna, Italy.

 Abbado's son is the opera director Daniele Abbado and his nephew Roberto Abbado is a composer, pianist and conductor.

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