Claudio Abbado

June 26, 1933 - Milan — January 20, 2014 - Bologna


Claudio Abbado, a visionary conductor

Abbado’s artistic vision and confidence resounded loud and clear throughout a lifetime of revelatory performances and recordings. Familiar music, whether by Beethoven, Mussorgsky or Debussy, found fresh color, clarity and rhythmic vitality, while neglected scores by Verdi, Rossini and others took their rightful place in the repertoire. Anti-autocratic, profoundly human, and supremely musical, Abbado strove to situate music within its wider artistic context while championing 20th-century figures from the giants of the Second Viennese School to the leading composers of modern Italy and undertaking a deep personal exploration of the symphonic world of Mahler.

Claudio Abbado: key dates

1933: Claudio Abbado is born in Milan, Italy, to a family of musicians with Sardinian origins.
1955: Finishes his studies at the Conservatory in Milan, where he studies composition, piano and conducting; and attends the Vienna Music Academy until 1957.
1958: Winner of the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood; operatic début with Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges in Trieste.
1960: Debut at the Teatro alla Scala.
1965: Debut at the Salzburg Festival.
1967: Starts collaboration with Decca and Deutsche Grammophon, during which he records the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Schubert.
1969–86: Resident Conductor, from 1971 Music Director and from 1980 Chief Conductor at La Scala.
1978: Co-founder of the European Union Youth Orchestra and their Music Director until 1994.
1979–86: Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, from 1983 their Music Director.
1981: Collaborates on the founding of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
1982–85: Principal Guest Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
1986: Founder of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.
1986–91: Music Director of the Vienna Staatsoper.
1990–2002: Succeeds Karajan as Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
1997: The Mahler Chamber Orchestra is founded on his initiative.
2003: Together with Michael Haefliger, he establishes the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, made up of members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with internationally known soloists as principal players.
2010: Mahler Cycle international tour.
2012: Voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame, and is awarded the conductor prize at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards.
2013: The world celebrates his 80th birthday.
2014: Claudio Abbado dies on the January 20, 2014, in Bologna, Italy, following a decade-long fight with cancer. The classical world mourns an irreplaceable giant.