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vienna conductor director artistic

Abbado, Claudio, eminent Italian conductor, brother of Marcello Abbado and uncle of Roberto Abbado; b. Milan, June 26, 1933. He began violin lessons at age eight with his father, the violinist, conductor, and pedagogue Michelangelo Abbado. After piano lessons from his mother and brother, he entered the Milan Cons, and studied with Enzo Calace (piano), Bettinelli and Paribeni (composition), and Votto (conducting). In 1955 he attended Gulda’s piano classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He pursued training in conducting with C. Zecchi and Galliera at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena (summers, 1956–57), and with Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music (1956–58). In 1958 he made his formal conducting debut in Trieste with The Love for 3 Oranges, and completed his training in conducting at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize. In 1963 he was one of the three co-winners in the Mitropoulos Competition in N.Y., which led to his appointment as an asst. conductor of the N.Y. Phil, in 1963–64. In 1965 he made his first appearance at Milan’s La Scala as a sym. conductor, was a conductor with the Vienna Phil., and made his British debut with the Hallé Orch. in Manchester. Abbado became closely associated with the Vienna Phil, in subsequent years, appearing frequently with it in Vienna, on tours, and on recordings from 1972. In 1967 he made his first appearance as an opera conductor at La Scala, and in 1968 he became its principal conductor and music director, later serving as its artistic director from 1976 to 1986. During his tenure, Abbado raised artistic standards to great heights. In 1968 he conducted II Barbiere di Siviglia at the Salzburg Festival, and also made his debut at London’s Covent Garden. On Oct. 7, 1968, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. conducting Don Carlos . In 1972 Abbado became principal guest conductor of the London Sym. Orch. In 1979 he assumed the position of its principal conductor, and then was its music director from 1983 to 1988. He founded the European Community Youth Orch. in 1978 and conducted it until organizing the Chamber Orch. of Europe in 1981, which he subsequently served as artistic advisor. In 1982 he founded La Filarmonica della Scala in Milan for the purpose of giving concerts at La Scala. From 1982 to 1986 he was principal guest conductor of the Chicago Sym. Orch. In 1984 he conducted Simon Boccanegra at the Vienna State Opera. He was chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991. In 1987 he was honored with the title of Generalmusikdirektor of Vienna. In 1988 he founded and became artistic director of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orch. in Vienna. From 1989 to 2000 Abbado was artistic director of the Berlin Phil, where his tenure was particularly noteworthy for his efforts to broaden its repertoire. He also toured and recorded with it. In 1994 he was artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival.

Abbado has demonstrated a capacity for drawing forth fine performances from his musicians in both the symphonic and operatic repertory. His command of the repertory extends from the Classical masters to the latest representatives of the avant-garde. Among his many honors are the Mozart Medal of the Mozart-Gemeinde of Vienna (1973), the Golden Nicolai Medal of the Vienna Phil. (1980), the Gran Croce of Italy (1984), the Gold Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Soc. of Vienna (1985), the Cross of the Légion d’honneur of France (1986), honorary doctorates from the univs. of Aberdeen (1986), Ferrara (1990), and Cambridge (1994), the Bundesverdienstkreuz of Germany (1992), and the Ring of Honor of the City of Vienna (1994).


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