Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [ˈklaudjo abˈbaːdo]; born June 26, 1933), is an Italian conductor. He has 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 has been a Senator for life in the Senate of Italy since 2013.
Born in Milan, Italy, Abbado is the son of the violinist and composer Michelangelo Abbado, who was his first piano teacher, and the brother of musician Marcello Abbado. After studying piano, composition, and conducting at the Milan Conservatory, at age 16, in 1955 Claudio Abbado 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 début 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 Mussorgsky. He was instrumental in increasing accessibility to the working-class. He also founded the Filarmonica della Scala in 1982, for the performance of orchestral repertoire in concert.
He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time in 1965 in a concert at the Salzburg Festival, and became the principal conductor in 1971. He served as music director and conductor for the Vienna State Opera 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.
In 1965, he made his British debut at the Halle Orchestra, followed, in 1966, by his London Symphony Orchestra debut. He continued to conduct on a regular basis with the London Orchestra, until 1979. From 1979 to 1988 he became the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and from 1982 to 1986 he was principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With both orchestras, Abbado made a number of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.
In 1989, the Berlin Philharmonic elected him as their chief conductor, to succeed Herbert von Karajan. In 1998, he announced that he would be leaving the Berlin Philharmonic after the expiry of his contract in 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.
After recovering from cancer, he formed the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003 and their concerts have been highly acclaimed. He also serves as music director of the Orchestra Mozart of Bologna, Italy.
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. In July 2011, aged 78, he declared himself to be in good health.
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 (the son of his brother Marcello, born 1926, who is a composer and pianist), is also a conductor.
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 by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giacomo Manzoni, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Thomas Adler, Giovanni Sollima, Roberto Carnevale, Franco Donatoni and George Benjamin.
Abbado recalls desiring 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 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 non-confrontational manner in rehearsal.[according to whom?]
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 Venezuela.
Claudio Abbado has received many awards and recognitions among which 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.
He has won 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 2005 Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) category for "Beethoven: Piano Cons. Nos. 2 & 3" performed by Martha Argerich.
- "Abbadio, Claudio". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
- Randel, Don Michael (1996). "Claudio Abbado". The Harvard biographical dictionary of music. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-674-37299-9.
- Alex Ross (2001-10-22). "Beethoven Unbound". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
- "Orchestergeschichte: Claudio Abbado" (in German). Berliner Philharmoniker. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- Tom Service (2007-08-22). "The maestro". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Best of Category (Orchestral), Gramophone Award Winner, and Record of the Year". Gramophone. June 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
- Matthew Westphal (2006-11-06). "Berlin Philharmonic Names Winner of First Claudio Abbado Composition Prize". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- Andrew Clements (2007-08-24). "Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Abbado (review of Prom 51, 2007)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- Daniel J. Wakin (2007-09-07). "Abbado, Ill, Cancels Appearances". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- Matthew Westphal (2007-11-09). "Claudio Abbado Returns to Podium Following Illness". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Tim Ashley (2001-02-02). "And this one's by the Bee Gees". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- Charlotte Higgins (2006-11-24). "Land of hope and glory". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- "Claudio Abbado biography".
- "Claudio Abbado (conductor)". Gramophone. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Claudio Abbado awarded classical honour". BBC News. May 9, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- Claudio Abbado at AllMusic
- Claudio Abbado at Deutsche Grammophon
- Claudio Abbado at Sony BMG Masterworks
- Claudio Abbado discography
- Claudio Abbado at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Claudio Abbado in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Claudio Abbado collected news and commentary at The Guardian
- Claudio Abbado collected news and commentary at The New York Times
|Music Director, La Scala, Milan