R.I.P. Signor Claudio Abbado

“I am Claudio to everyone”. Words of Mr.
Abbado when introduced in 1989
to the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Credits: BerlinPhil

On this very January 20th, 2014, the musical world woke up less shiny: the brilliant italian musician Claudio Abbado is no longer among us. A number of messages and homages followed this sad notice, and I felt particularly touched by a couple of them.

Naming Mr. Abbado as one of the greatest conductors of this and the last century, the label Deutsche Grammophon paid a beautiful tribute to him as well. They worked together for 46 years, thus fortunately, Mr. Abbado’s recordings are preserved and will be available for generations to come. In the words of the DG’s CEO: “The world has lost one of the most inspiring musicians of our era, a man who put himself entirely at the service of the music he conducted and, in doing so, made listeners feel that they were hearing it properly for the very first time.

Mr. Abbado with his former professor,
the Brazilian conductor Maestro
Eleazar de Carvalho.

The recognition of Mr. Abbado’s legacy – his body of work as well as his gentle personality, are also unanimously celebrated. His emphasis on dialogue and cooperation helped build a sounding character recognised not only by co-workers in several countries but specially among young talented musicians that he mentored.

Mr. Claudio Abbado with
Mr. Gustavo Dudamel.

One of those young musicians inspired and encouraged by Mr. Abbado was Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan violinist, conductor and a regular visitor with his baton leading the Berliner Philharmoniker. Mr. Dudamel was the author of one of those touching homages I referred to in the beginning of this post. Pretty considerate words, coming from a great musician morning the death of his mentor:

Claudio Abbado will always be part of the exalted group of geniuses in the history of the arts. His endless generosity and love touched me at a very early age and will be always one of the most valuable treasures in my life. It was not only me personally but more importantly our Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela that he embraced as his family. He gave to us his sincere love and his profound wisdom. On behalf of my colleagues and of Maestro Abreu, I would like to pay an eternal tribute to our beloved Maestro Abbado, with the faith that his spirit and his inspiration will be always with us.

Mr. Daniel Barenboim with his
old friend and colleague
Mr. Claudio Abbado

Another great homage that particularly attracted my attention was presented by the old friend, the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. He says: “With Claudio Abbado, we lose one of the greatest musicians of the past 50 years and one of the very few musicians who had a very strong connection with the spirit of music across the different genres. …  Perhaps most significant, however, was his support of young musicians through his founding of many important youth orchestras. In this sense, he was a pioneer who worked with young musicians, challenged and supported them, throughout his entire career. With this, he set an example for the world, maintaining that young and inexperienced musicians can make music at the highest level when they work with the right attitude and commitment. We owe him this, and so much more.

A leader who founded orchestras, launched festivals, encouraged young talented musicians. A conductor that gave us a brilliant interpretation of Mahler‘s work, and always conducted from memory after hard preparation. A professional that refused the title of “great conductor” – “it’s the composer who is great“, stated Mr. Abbado.

Chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1989, Mr. Abbado replaced the legendary german chief conductor Herbert von Karajan, a member of the Nazi party who stayed in command for 35 years. Mr. Abbado was then replaced by Mr. Simon Rattle, in January 2003, a couple of years after Mr. Abbado was diagnosed with stomach cancer and started a long treatment battle that unfortunately led to his death at the age of 80.

A beautiful offer was launched yesterday by the Digital Concert Hall of the Berliner Philharmoniker. You may want to enjoy the selected videos made available for free watch.

Let us hope he will keep on conducting and evolving his wonderful musical talents in space… Why not dream about Mr. Abbado leading the Planets and surprising the stars with his baton? 🙂

“For me, listening is the most important thing:
to listen to each other, to listen to what people say,
to listen to music!”

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