Berlin Mourns Maestro Claudio Abbado, 80

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Italian conductor Claudio Abbado has died at 80. His death was announced earlier this morning by the mayor’s office of Bologna. Abbado, arguably the greatest Italian conductor of his generation, along with Riccardo Muti, held posts at La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. In Berlin, he succeeded Herbert von Karajan to become the orchestra’s first non-German principle conductor, a month before the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to the Berlin Philharmonic’s website, the “Abbado Era” was a turning point in the orchestra’s history. “When Claudio Abbado took up his new duties, the Berlin Wall had just come down. Berlin and the two German states found themselves in political upheaval. It was a turning point – for both Germany and the Berliner Philharmoniker. “I’m Claudio for everyone. No titles!” With these words – as simple as they were revolutionary – he presented himself as the new boss, without any airs. A change of generations took place in the orchestra: many long-serving musicians retired, and younger ones took their positions. Claudio Abbado strived for a more transparent orchestral sound than his predecessor.” His tenure in Berlin lasted from 1989-2002. He returned to guest conduct in Berlin on numerous occasions, most recently last May a program that included the incidental music for Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.    

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