(Born June 23, 1943)
James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist.
He is currently the Music Director and chief conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Since his first performance conducting the Metropolitan Opera on June 5, 1971, by 2009 he had conducted more than 2,456 Met performances. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Born into a musical family in Cinncinati, Ohio, he played the piano as a small child before attending the Julliard School of Music in 1961 and took conducting lessons with Jean Morel.
Under his leadership the Metropolitan has become one of the finest operatic ensembles in the world. In 1983, he was the conductor and musical director for the Franco Zeffirelli film of La Traviata starring Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo with the Metropolitan orchestra and chorus.
At the Met, "Jimmy" Levine has led numerous new productions of works by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss, Rossini, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Kurt Weill, Debussy, Alban Berg, and George Gershwin.
For the 25th anniversary of his Met debut, he conducted the world premiere of John Harbison's "The Great Gatsby", which had been commissioned especially for the occasion.
Recently he has had serious health issues with his back and has undergone several major operations. This has led to cancellations of some performances and speculation that his retirement is imminent.