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Claudio Abbado


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Milan, Italy (1933 – 2014)

Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (Italian: [ˈklaudjo abˈbaːdo]; 26 June 1933 – 20 January 2014) was an Italian conductor. He served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera, and principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 1989 to 2002. He was made a Senator for life in the Senate of Italy in 2013.

Born in Milan, Italy, Abbado was the son of the violinist and composer Michelangelo Abbado, who was his first piano teacher, and the brother of the musician Marcello Abbado. After studying piano, composition, and conducting at the Milan Conservatory, at age 16, in 1955 he studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music. He also spent time at the Chigiana Academy at Siena. In 1958 he won the international Serge Koussevitsky Competition for conductors, at the Tanglewood Music Festival, which resulted in a number of operatic conducting engagements in Italy, and in 1963 he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Prize for conductors, allowing him to work for five months with the New York Philharmonic.

Abbado made his debut at La Scala 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 Petrovich Mussorgsky.

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