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Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (born June 26 1933), is an Italianmarker conductor.
Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado has served as music director of the La Scalamarker opera house in Milanmarker, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Operamarker, and, most recently, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra from 1989 to 2002, when he retired from the position for health reasons.


Born in Milanmarker, Italymarker, Abbado was the son of the violinist and composer Michelangelo Abbado, who was his first piano teacher. After studies at the Milan Conservatory, in 1955 Claudio Abbado studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Musicmarker. In 1958, he won the international Koussevitsky competition for conductors, which resulted in a number of operatic conducting engagements in Italy. In 1963 he won the Dmitri Mitropoulos Competition for conductors, allowing him to work for five months with the New York Philharmonic.

Abbado recalls desiring to become a conductor for the first time as a child when he heard a performance of the Nocturnes by Claude Debussy. He had the opportunity to attend many orchestral rehearsals in Milan led by such conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwängler. Abbado has told interviewers that Toscanini's tyrannical and sometimes abusive manner towards musicians in rehearsal repelled him, and that he resolved to behave in the gentler manner of Bruno Walter. Abbado is known to exhibit a friendly, understated, and unconfrontational manner in rehearsal.

He made his debut at La Scalamarker in his hometown of Milan in 1960 and served as its music director from 1968 to 1986, conducting not only the traditional Italian repertoire but also presenting a contemporary opera each year, as well as a concert series devoted to the works of Alban Berg and Modest Mussorgsky. Abbado also founded the Filarmonica della Scala, in 1982, for the performance of orchestral repertoire in concert.

Abbado conducted the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time in 1965 in a concert at the Salzburg Festival. He served as music director for the Vienna State Operamarker from 1986 to 1991, with notable productions such as Mussorgsky's original Boris Godunov and his seldom-heard Khovanshchina, Franz Schubert's Fierrabras, and Gioacchino Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims.

He has been especially known for introducing 20th-century music to operatic repertory.

He was principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1987. In the US, he was principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1986. With both orchestras, Abbado made a number of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.

In 1989, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra elected Abbado as their chief conductor, to succeed Herbert von Karajan, a post he held until 2002. In 2004 he returned to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic and performed Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in a series of recorded live concerts. The resulting CD won Best Orchestral Recording and Record of the Year in Gramophone Magazine's 2006 awards.

The Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic established the Claudio Abbado Composition Prize in 2006 in his honour.

Abbado has performed and recorded a wide range of Romantic works, in particular Gustav Mahler whose symphonies he has recorded several times. He is also noted for his interpretations of modern works such as Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giacomo Manzoni, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Thomas Adler, Giovanni Sollima, Roberto Carnevale, Franco Donatoni and George Benjamin.

In 1988, he founded the music festival Wien Modern, which has since expanded to include all aspects of contemporary art. This interdisciplinary festival takes place each year under his direction.

Abbado is also well-known for his work with young musicians. He is founder and music director of the European Union Youth Orchestra (1978) and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (1986). He is also a frequent guest conductor with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with whom he recorded a cycle of Franz Schubert symphonies to considerable acclaim. More recently, he has worked with the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar of Venezuelamarker.

Abbado was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2000 and the treatment led to the removal of a portion of his digestive system. After his recovery he formed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003 and their concerts have been highly acclaimed. Abbado is scheduled to remain as the orchestra's music director and chief conductor through 2010. He also serves as music director of the Mozart Orchestra of Bolognamarker, Italymarker.

In September 2007 he announced that he was cancelling all of his forthcoming conducting engagements for the "near future" on the advice of his physicians but two months later he resumed conducting concerts with an engagement in Bologna.

Abbado's son is the opera-director Daniele Abbado. From his relationship with the violinist Viktoria Mullova, he is the father of her oldest child, Misha. His nephew, Roberto Abbado, is also a conductor.


Abbado has received many awards and recognitions among which the Imperial Prize of Japan, Mahler Medal, Bundesverdienstkreuz, Khytera Prize, and honorary doctorates from universities of Ferraramarker, Cambridgemarker, Aberdeenmarker, and Havanamarker.

In 1958, he won the Koussevitsky Competition, establishing him in Italy, and then won the 1963 Mitropoulos Prize, after which he rapidly became known internationally as an orchestral and opera conductor.

In 1973, he won the Mozart Medal, awarded by Mozartgemeinde Wien.

He has won 1997 Grammy Award in the Best Small Ensemble Performance category for "Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 1 With Finale 1921, Op. 24 No. 1" and 2005 Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist Performance category for "Beethoven: Piano Cons. Nos. 2 & 3" performed by Martha Argerich.


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