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Italian conductor Claudio Abbado was born in Milan on 26 June 1933 into a musical family. He studied composition, conducting and piano at the Conservatorio di musica 'Giuseppe Verdi' di Milano and then conducting with Hans Swarowsky at Vienna's Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts.
He won the 1958 Koussevitsky Competition at Tanglewood and the Mitropoulos Prize in 1963.
From 1968 until 1986 he was music director at La Scala, where he presented a contemporary opera each year and increased accessibility to the working class. He founded the Filarmonica della Scala for performing orchestral repertoire.
In 1971 he became principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic and was music director and conductor of Vienna State Opera from 1986 until 1991. He also worked as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and as principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
After recovering from stomach cancer (diagnosed in 2000), he formed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and was music director of Orchestra Mozart in Bologna.
He died in Bologna on 20 January 2014, aged eighty.
Ensemble. Celestial Spheres - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to two British composers - Thomas Adès and Gustav Holst - in Rome
Profile. Only the Screen - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė talks to the Belgian singer and conductor Tore Tom Denys
DVD Spotlight. Words of Consolation - Abbado's Brahms German Requiem impresses Howard Smith. '... a front runner in this work.'
CD Spotlight. A Fine Idea - Claudio Abbado at the Lucerne Festival, heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... natural, extroverted musicality ...'
CD Spotlight. Supple Artistry - Isabelle Faust plays Berg and Beethoven, heard by Howard Smith. '... alive with dancing quicksilver and spring-heeled agility.'
Ensemble. Nearly a Male Lulu - 'Don Giovanni' in Aix-en-Provence, a black comedy of sex and loneliness, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Darkness to Light - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Ravenna Festival
Ensemble. Very Welcome - The bicentennial 'Simon Boccanegra' in Parma, appreciated by Giuseppe Pennisi
Outstanding and unforgettable - Lilya Zilberstein's recital at London's Wigmore Hall impresses Bill Newman