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CLAUDIO ABBADO

Claudio Abbado studied the piano with his father Michelangelo Abbado at the Milan Conservatory, as well as conducting and composition. After leaving the conservatory in 1955 he went on to study conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music. Throughout this period he was active as a singer in choirs, a key experience. In 1958 he won the Koussevitzky Conducting Competition at Tanglewood in the USA. He worked at the Parma Conservatory before making his début at La Scala, Milan in 1960 as part of the Scarlatti tercentenary celebrations. In 1963 he won the first prize in the Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York, an event that proved to be a major turning point in the development of his career. Herbert von Karajan offered him the opportunity to conduct at the Salzburg Festival and in 1965 he made his début there with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 ‘Resurrection’.

Following his Salzburg début Abbado conducted in the same year the world première of Manzoni’s opera Atomtod at La Scala. In 1966 he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time, and a year later he made his début in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s distinguished subscription concert series in Vienna. In 1967 he was also given the honour of opening the season at La Scala, Milan, conducting a new production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. In 1968 his career moved ahead decisively: he returned to the Salzburg Festival to conduct Il barbiere di Siviglia and was appointed chief conductor at La Scala, a post he held until 1986.

At La Scala Abbado conducted both the traditional operatic repertoire as well as contemporary works, and founded the Orchestra della Scala for the presentation of a series of orchestral concerts. Working closely with illustrious contemporaries including the composer Luigi Nono, the stage director Giorgio Strehler, and the pianist Maurizio Pollini, he introduced many innovations such as public rehearsals, and factory and educational concerts. In so doing Abbado not only developed the repertoire of La Scala, he also considerably extended the public which it served. In 1975 he conducted the first performance of Nono’s opera Al gran sole carico d’amore, and in 1988 the première of Wolfgang Rihm’s Die Abreise.

In 1979 Abbado was appointed chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra with whom he made a number of distinguished recordings, including a complete cycle of the symphonies of Mendelssohn. Between 1986 and 1991 he was chief conductor of the Vienna State Opera. As in Milan, so here too he enriched the repertory considerably, with productions of Schubert’s Fierrabras, Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina. In 1987 he was appointed general music director of the City of Vienna, and the following year he founded the music festival Wien Modern, an annual event that expanded to encompass all aspects of contemporary cultural activity.

In 1989 Abbado’s career took a further decisive step forward when he succeeded Herbert von Karajan as the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, a post that he held until the end of the 2001–2002 concert season. As with his previous appointments in Milan and Vienna, Abbado brought new ideas to Berlin. In the planning of concert programmes contemporary music assumed a major position alongside the Classical and Romantic repertoire. Annual thematic cycles were developed in which a single theme was examined in depth: for example, the legend of Faust, the influence of Greek antiquity, and Shakespeare in music. With the cellist Natalia Gutman he inaugurated the Berliner Begegnungen (‘Berlin Encounters’), as part of the annual Berlin Festival, where experienced musicians worked with young instrumentalists in both classical and contemporary chamber music works.

Abbado always took a keen interest in music education. He had been responsible for the foundation of two major youth orchestras, the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. He was also closely involved with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, acting as its artistic adviser. Following the creation of an international composers’ competition in Vienna, he expanded the Salzburg Easter Festival, of which he became artistic director in 1994, to include prizes for composition as well as for the visual arts and literature. He was awarded numerous honours including the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Federal Germany’s highest civilian honour, the Légion d’honneur from the French Ministry of Culture, and the Gran Croce, Italy’s highest honour. In 1973 the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra awarded him its Ring of Honour, followed by the Golden Nicolai Medal in 1980. In 1985 the International Gustav Mahler Society presented him with its gold medal in recognition of his service to the music of Gustav Mahler.

Claudio Abbado is without question one of the major conductors to have emerged following the earlier generation of maestri epitomised by Karajan and Furtwängler. Like them, he was equally at home in the pit of the opera house and on the podium of the concert hall. His interpretations are notable for their acute fidelity to the score, combined with an animated vitality that gave them a great sense of life. He possessed a keen musical sensibility, and used this to develop imaginative programme concepts that took account of neglected repertoire as well as the established canon of masterpieces. His recorded repertoire is very large and includes cycles of the symphonic works of Beethoven, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. His operatic recordings include outstanding readings of several of the major Verdi works, including Don Carlos, Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, Un ballo in maschera and Aida, as well as landmark accounts of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina and Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims. Abbado’s concern for stylistic fidelity and for instrumental accuracy had occasionally made his interpretations seemed less highly-drawn than those of his immediate predecessors and more flamboyant contemporaries, yet his intense musicality and precise musical observation had also resulted in performances of the greatest conviction, especially in the field of opera, where he is undoubtedly one of the finest conductors of the twentieth century.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).

Role: Conductor 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ABBADO / NONO / POLLINI - A TRAIL ON THE WATER (PAL) TDKDVD
DVWW-DOCNONO
Classical Documentary
ABBADO, Claudio: Hearing the Silence (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-DOCABB
Classical Documentary
ABBADO, Claudio: Silence that Follows the Music (The) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101049
Classical Documentary
ABBADO, Claudio: Silence that Follows the Music (The) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
101048
Classical Documentary
ARTHAUS DVD VIDEO SAMPLER III (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100773
Classical Documentary
BEETHOVEN / LlSZT: Prometheus (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101717
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 TDKDVD
DV-BPABBOX
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 9 (Abbado) (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-BPAB39
Classical Concert
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 (Abbado) (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-BPAB47
Classical Concert
BERG, A.: Wozzeck (Vienna State Opera, 1987) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100256
Opera DVD
Berlin Philharmonic in Japan - STRAVINSKY, I.: Firebird Suite / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 5 (Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107174
Classical Concert
BERLIN PHILHARMONIC: New Year's Gala - A Tribute to Carmen (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100027
Classical Concert
BERLIN PHILHARMONIC: New Year's Gala - A Tribute to Carmen (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100026
Classical Concert
BERLIN PHILHARMONIC: New Year's Gala 1996 (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100043
Classical Concert
BERLIN PHILHARMONIC: New Year's Gala 1996 (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100042
Classical Concert
BRAHMS: Deutsches Requiem (Ein) (NTSC only) Arthaus Musik
101047
Classical Concert
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 1 (Abbado) Accentus Music
ACC-30274
Orchestral
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 5 (Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10243
Classical Concert
BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 5 (Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20243
Classical Concert
CABALLE: Beyond Music TDKDVD
DV-DOCMSC
Classical Documentary
DOMINGO, Placido: Live from the Vienna State Opera - BIZET, G.: Carmen / VERDI, G.: Il Trovatore / WAGNER, R.: Lohengrin (PAL/NTSC) (Box Set) Arthaus Musik
107505
Opera DVD
DVD SAMPLER 2006 - BALLET and CONCERT (NTSC) TDKDVD
DVWW-COSMPL3
Samplers
EUROPA-KONZERT 1994 - BEETHOVEN, L. van: Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor" / BRAHMS, J.: Symphony No. 2 (Barenboim, Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107170
Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 1996 - PROKOFIEV, S.: Romeo and Juliet / BEETHOVEN, L. van: Romances / Symphony No. 7 (Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107162
Ballet DVD, Classical Concert, Opera DVD, Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 1996 - PROKOFIEV, S.: Romeo and Juliet / BEETHOVEN, L. van: Romances / Symphony No. 7 (Abbado) (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-ECSPE
Ballet DVD, Classical Concert, Opera DVD, Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 1998 - DEBUSSY, C.: 3 Nocturnes / VERDI, G.: 4 Pezzi sacri (Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107159
Classical Concert
EUROPA-KONZERT 2002 FROM PALERMO (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-EUC02
Classical Concert
GALA FROM BERLIN - Grand Finale (Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107166
Classical Concert, Ballet DVD, Classical Concert
GALA FROM BERLIN - Songs of Love and Desire (Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107167
Opera DVD, Classical Concert, Opera DVD, Classical Concert
JOSE CARRERAS COLLECTION (Int'l Edition) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
101415
Classical Concert
JOSE CARRERAS COLLECTION: Frankfurt Concert with Abbado (1992) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
102029
Classical Concert
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - BERG, A.: Wozzeck (Vienna State Opera, 1987) (Blu-ray) Arthaus Musik
109156
Opera DVD
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - BERG, A.: Wozzeck (Vienna State Opera, 1987) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
109155
Opera DVD
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - MUSSORGSKY, M.: Khovanshchina (Vienna State Opera, 1989) (Blu-ray) Arthaus Musik
109160
Opera DVD
LEGENDARY PERFORMANCES - MUSSORGSKY, M.: Khovanshchina (Vienna State Opera, 1989) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
109159
Opera DVD
LUX AETERNA - Claudio Abbado Conducts Verdi's Messa da Requiem (1982, 1985) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
101451
Classical Concert, Classical Documentary
MAGIC MOMENTS OF OPERA (NTSC) (DVD Box Set) Arthaus Musik
107515
Opera DVD
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 9 (Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10214
Classical Concert
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 9 (Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20214
Classical Concert
MAHLER: SYMPHONY NO. 2 (PAL) TDKDVD
DV-COMS2
Classical Concert
MEMORIAL CONCERT FOR ABBADO (Faust, Ganz, A. Nelsons) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10319
Classical Concert
MEMORIAL CONCERT FOR ABBADO (Faust, Ganz, A. Nelsons) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20319
Classical Concert
MOZART, W.A.: Concert Arias / Symphony No. 35, "Haffner" / BEETHOVEN, L. van: Egmont (Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10244
Classical Concert
MOZART, W.A.: Concert Arias / Symphony No. 35, "Haffner" / BEETHOVEN, L. van: Egmont (Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20244
Classical Concert
MOZART, W.A.: Requiem (Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10258
Classical Concert
MOZART, W.A.: Requiem (Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20258
Classical Concert
MOZART: Requiem (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100037
Classical Concert
MOZART: Requiem (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100036
Classical Concert
MUSSORGSKY: Khovanshchina Arthaus Musik
100310
Opera DVD
OPERA HIGHLIGHTS, Vol. 3 (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
102051
Opera DVD
Orchestral Concert - BRAHMS, J. / SCHOENBERG, A. / BEETHOVEN, L. van (Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10282
Classical Concert
Orchestral Concert - BRAHMS, J. / SCHOENBERG, A. / BEETHOVEN, L. van (Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20282
Classical Concert
PROKOFIEV, S.: Scythian Suite / BERG, A.: Lulu-Suite / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 6 (S. Bolivar Youth Orchestra, Abbado) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10204
Opera DVD, Classical Concert
PROKOFIEV, S.: Scythian Suite / BERG, A.: Lulu-Suite / TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 6 (S. Bolivar Youth Orchestra, Abbado) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20101
Opera DVD, Classical Concert
SCHUBERT, F.: Mass No. 6, D. 950 / MOZART, W.A.: Missa solemnis in C Minor, "Waisenhausmesse" (Abbado) (Salzburg Festival, 2012) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10261
Classical Concert
SCHUBERT, F.: Mass No. 6, D. 950 / MOZART, W.A.: Missa solemnis in C Minor, "Waisenhausmesse" (Abbado) (Salzburg Festival, 2012) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20261
Classical Concert
STRAUSS, R.: Elektra (Vienna State Opera, 1989) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100049
Opera DVD
STRAUSS, R.: Richard Strauss Collection (The) (11 DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107539
Opera DVD
STRAVINSKY, I.: Firebird (Royal Danish Ballet, 1982) / Pulcinella (Scapino Ballet, 1988) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100130
Ballet DVD
VERDI, G.: Messa da Requiem (Abbado) (Blu-ray Video with Hi-Res Audio) Arthaus Musik
109178
Classical Concert
VERDI, G.: Messa da Requiem (PAL) (Edinburgh Festival Chorus, London Symphony, Abbado) Arthaus Musik
100146
Classical Concert
VERDI, G.: Simon Boccanegra (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2002) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107073
Opera DVD
VERDI, G.: Simon Boccanegra (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2002) (NTSC) TDKDVD
DVUS-OPSIBO
Opera DVD
VERDI: Simon Boccanegra TDKDVD
DV-OPSIBO
Opera DVD
WAGNER COLLECTION (THE) - Lohengrin / Tannhauser / Rienzi (6 DVD Box Set) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
107527
Opera DVD
WAGNER, R.: Lohengrin (Vienna State Opera, 1990) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100957
Opera DVD
WAGNER: Lohengrin (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100956
Opera DVD
WALDBUHNE IN BERLIN 1996 - Italian Night (Gheorghiu, Larin, Terfel, Abbado) (PAL) Arthaus Musik
107154
Classical Concert, Opera DVD, Classical Concert, Opera DVD, Classical Concert, Opera DVD
WEILL: Street Scene (PAL) Arthaus Musik
100098
Opera DVD





 
 
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