The art of being well-remembered: Claudio Abbado, the charismatic conductor of the best and brightest orchestras, has left the world a rich musical legacy. The conductor, who was born in 1933 in Milan and died in Bologne in 2014, was among the elite conductors of his time. His mastery also shone in his many opera engagements - Abbado knew how to lead his singers with elegance and precision. Observing him closely, we notice how he seems to anticipate the singers’ every nuance. His neverending enthusiasm for everything new and for the coming generation of musicians found expression in the countless orchestras and festivals he founded, as well as his commitment to world premieres.

© Helmut Jasbar, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • Pupil of Vienna conductor Hans Swarowsky.

  • Master interpreter of Italian opera, from Rossini to Verdi.

  • Founded many orchestras, including the European Union Youth Orchestra, Orchestra Mozart, and Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.

  • In 1969, appointed Music Director of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala at the age of 38.

  • Named Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1979.

  • Starting in 1986, Artistic Director of the Vienna State Opera.

  • Founded one of the most important new music festivals, Wien Modern.

  • In 1989 Claudio Abbado is named Herbert von Karajan’s successor at the Berlin Philharmonic.

Did you know?

  • When Abbado returned, after twenty-three years, to conduct concerts at Milan’s La Scala in 2009, he asked for his payment to be 90,000 trees. The city of Milan complied with Claudio Abbado’s request and provided a sum of 20 million euros for the trees to be planted. Milan became greener and will certainly remember its great son for many years to come.

  • A gentle soul despite his natural authority; musicians called him “Signore Piùpiano” (“Mr. A Bit Quieter”), since certain passages could never be quiet and tender enough for him.