Claudio Abbado, in loving memory (1933-2014)

“Please, don’t call me Maestro, I’m one of you” Claudio Abbado.

On January 20th of 2014, the world lost one of the greatest conductors of classical music, Claudio Abbado.

Claudio Abbado became the successor of Herbert von Karajan as Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.

He was a music director of the “La Scala” opera house in Milan and principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Claudio Abbado was also “principal guest conductor” of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director with the Vienna Stata opera.

Abbado desired to become a conductor for the first time as a child, when he heard a performance of Claude Debussy’s Nocturnes.

He had the opportunity to attend many orchestral rehearsals in Milan led by such conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Wilhelm Furtwängler and 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 was known to exhibit a friendly, understated, and non-confrontational manner in rehearsal.

Abbado was also well known for his work with young musicians. He was founder and music director of the European Union Youth Orchestra  and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.

He was 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 worked with the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar of Venezuela and took charge of mentoring and promoting the young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

He was also known for his Germanic orchestral repertory as well as his interest in the music of Gioacchino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi.

Some trivia:

Claudio Abbado gave a lot of presentations of classical music in jails and children’s hospitals, considering that “musical education is, in fact, the education of man.”

He was considered one of the greatest. In 2011, music magazine Classic Voice named Claudio Abbado the most important of the top 100 living conductors. One designation, however, he never sought was “maestro.”

Claudio Abbado received many awards and recognitions including the Grand cross of the Légion d’honneur, Bundesverdienstkreuz, Imperial Prize of Japan, Mahler Medal, Khytera Prize, and honorary doctorates from the universities of Ferrara, Cambridge, Aberdeen, and Havana.

In 1973, Abbado won the Mozart Medal awarded by Mozartgemeinde Wien, and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 1994.

Abbado received the 1997 Grammy Award in the Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without conductor) category for “Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 1 With Finale 1921, Op. 24 No. 1” and the 2005 Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) category for “Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3” performed by Martha Argerich.

In April 2012, Abbado was voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame, and in May of the same year, he was awarded the conductor prize at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards.

On 30 August 2013, Abbado was appointed to the Italian Senate as a Senator for life by President Giorgio Napolitano for his “outstanding cultural achievements”.

Gustavo Dudamel will dedicate “Berlioz’s Requiem” to Claudio Abbado, in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Rest in peace, Claudio Abbado.

We will never forget you!


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