Claudio Abbado made his debut in 1960, at the Teatro alla Scala in his home city of Milan, and was music director there from 1968 to 1986. He also served as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1983 until 1986. Having conducted the Wiener Philharmoniker for the first time in 1965, he became music director of the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991, and in 1987 Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Vienna. In 1988 he initiated the “Wien Modern” Festival. Claudio Abbado has always taken a particular interest in young musicians: as founder and music director of the Youth Orchestra of the European Union and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, artistic director of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and founder and principal conductor of the new Lucerne Festival Orchestra. He has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon since 1967, amassing a discography that includes the entire symphonic works of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Ravel and more than 20 complete opera recordings. His recordings have won innumerable awards, including Gramophone and Echo Awards, Grammy®, Diapason d’or and Record Academy Award, Tokyo.
Abbado’s numerous honours and awards include the Gran Croce, the highest honour bestowed by the Italian Republic, the Cross of the Legion of Honour from the French Minister of Culture and the Grosses Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens (the highest honour awarded by the Federal Republic of Germany). In 1973, the Wiener Philharmoniker awarded him the Ring of Honour, and in 1980 the Golden Nicolai Medal. In Vienna in 1985, he received the Gold Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Society for his services to the composer’s music; in Düsseldorf in 2004, the Kythera Award for his “innumerable services to musical culture”. He was named an honorary citizen of Lucerne in 2005. Abbado holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Aberdeen, Ferrara and Cambridge, and is an honorary member of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and Konzerthausgesellschaft.
The Berliner Philharmoniker, whom he first directs in 1966, choose Claudio Abbado as their permanent conductor and artistic director, a position he holds until 2002.
Conducts Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Vienna State Opera. Deutsche Grammophon release of Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, which receives numerous international awards.
Release of his first Mahler recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker (Symphony no. 1).
Conducts new production of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead with the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Salzburg Festival. European tour with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Release of complete Brahms cycle with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Vienna recording of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande released on Deutsche Grammophon.
Tour to Israel and the USA with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Concert performances of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in Berlin. Release of new Deutsche Grammophon recording from Vienna of the Verdi Requiem.
Named artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival. Conducts new production of Mozart’s Figaro at the Vienna Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker. New production of Boris Godunov at the Salzburg Festival. Tour to Japan with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Receives Ernst von Siemens Prize, Germany’s most prestigious music award. Vienna recordings of Lohengrin and Mahler’s Second Symphony released.
Conducts Elektra at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Deutsche Grammophon releases include Le nozze di Figaro and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the Wiener Philharmoniker, and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Conducts new production of Otello at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Production of Elektra at the Florence Maggio Musicale with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Brahms concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Berlin Festival and in New York. Concert performances of Berg’s Wozzeck in Berlin.
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin and at the Salzburg Easter Festival; Brahms centenary concerts in Vienna with the Berliner Philharmoniker. New production of Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Concert performances in Berlin of Schubert’s Fierrabras.
Conducts a new production of Boris Godunov at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Concerts in New York and a tour of Japan with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Concert performance in Berlin of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Release of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Wagner’s Tristan and Bach’s B minor Mass at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Tours with the Berliner Philharmoniker to Moscow, London, Paris and the USA.
New production of Simon Boccanegra at the Salzburg Easter Festival. Concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Japan, including complete Tristan in Tokyo. New recording of Beethoven Symphonies cycle with the Berliner Philharmoniker released on Deutsche Grammophon.
Conducts Verdi’s Falstaff at the Salzburg Easter Festival; the opera is recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Berlin and released later in the year. Concert performances in Berlin of Wagner’s Parsifal.
Farewell performances as artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival conducting a new production of Parsifal with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Triumphant performances of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Florence Maggio Musicale. Releases include The Berlin Album, an anthology of Berlin recordings and Mahler’s Symphonies n. 3, 7 and 9 with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Concerts in Italy with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (including Shostakovich’s music for King Lear) and at the Lucerne Festival with the Festival Orchestra (including Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos). Releases include discs of orchestral music by Debussy and Wagner, both with the Berliner Philharmoniker, as well as Schubert lieder in orchestral arrangements by famous composers, with Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Quasthoff and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Mahler (Sixth) and Martin in Berlin with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mahler (Ninth) in Rome with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Mozart with Giuliano Carmignola and the Orchestra Mozart. Conducts the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Mozart’s Così fan tutte in several Italian venues, and Beethoven and Hindemith to close the summer’s Lucerne Festival. Released this year: Mahler’s Second Symphony and Debussy’s La Mer with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, as well as Beethoven piano concertos with Martha Argerich and Sempre libera, a recital of opera arias with Anna Netrebko, both accompanied by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Mahler (Fourth) and Berg with the Berliner Philharmoniker. With the Mahler Chamber Orchestra: a new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Baden-Baden and several venues in Italy. Also in several Italian cities he conducts the Orchestra Mozart, some programmes featuring Giuliano Carmignola in Mozart concertos. With the Lucerne Festival Orchestra his concerts at the Festival (and in October in Rome) include works by Beethoven, Berg, Bruckner, Mahler, Nono, Schubert and Wagner. New releases this year include Berliner Philharmoniker recordings of Mahler’s Fourth and Sixth Symphonies.
Travels to Caracas in January to conduct the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and conducts that orchestra in Rome and Palermo in September. Concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in May; European tour with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra; concerts with the Orchestra Mozart and Carmignola throughout Italy and in Salzburg. At this summer’s Lucerne Festival conducts Mozart, Mahler, Brahms and Bruckner. Abbado’s recording of Die Zauberflöte with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra is received with to wide acclaim; also released this year: The Mozart Album, new recordings of popular arias and duets featuring Deutsche Grammophon’s star singers.
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos with Carmignola and the Orchestra Mozart in Italy; with the Festival Orchestra in Lucerne and at the BBC Proms. Releases include Schumann’s Cello Concerto (Gutman) and Brahms’s Serenade no. 1 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; highlights from Die Zauber¬flöte; and the re-release on DVD of Peter and the Wolf and the 1991 New Year’s Concert with the Wiener Philharmoniker.
Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; Berlioz’s Te Deum and Beetho¬ven’s Piano Concerto no. 4 (Pollini) with the Berliner Philharmoniker; Pergolesi and Mozart with the Orchestra Mozart; Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Rachmaninov with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. DG celebrates Abbado’s 75th birthday with numerous releases: Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies (based on Rome recordings February 2001); Mozart’s Violin Concertos (Carmignola) and the Sinfonia concertante, and Symphonies nos. 29, 33, 35, 38 and 41 with the Orchestra Mozart; a compilation of Marches and Dances; Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with Pollini and the Berliner Philharmoniker; on DVD: Abbado in Concert.
Concerts include Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 and Brahms’s Piano Concerto no. 1 (Grimaud) with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in Caracas; Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3 (Yuja Wang), Lieutenant Kijé, Mozart symphonies and wind concertos, Schubert’s Fourth Symphony and Pergolesi with the Orchestra Mozart in Italy; Beethoven’s Fifth, Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs and Mozart’s Requiem with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Italy; Schubert, Mahler and Debussy in Berlin. He conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphonies nos. 1 and 4, and with Yuja Wang performing Prokoviev’s Third Piano Concerto and Magdalena Koženà singing Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder at the Lucerne Festival; in September he leads the Festival Orchestra in Beijing – on the programme: Yuja Wang playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3 and Mahler’s First Symphony. Audio releases include Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Salve Regina and Violin Concerto with Giuliano Carmignola amd the Orchestra Mozart in celebration of Pergolesi Year 2010 and the re-release of Haydn’s 7 “London” Symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe to celebrate the composer’s 200th anniversary: on DVD: A Russian Night from the 2008 Lucerne Festival with pianist Hélène Grimaud playing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2, Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
Beethoven’s Fidelio (concert performances and live recording) at the Lucerne Festival; also at the festival Mahler 9 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, followed by performances in Madrid and Paris; concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin, the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in Lucerne (with soprano Anna Prohaska), the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Ferrara and Reggio Emilia, including performances of Rachmaninov piano concertos with Yuja Wang; the Orchestra Mozart in Rome, Bologna, Ferrara and other Italian cities, including performances of Mozart and Bach Violin Concertos with Giuliano Carmignola. This year’s releases include two further albums of Pergolesi’s sacred works with soloists, the Orchestra Mozart and the Italian Swiss Radio Chorus.
Concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker (with Maurizio Pollini and Anna Prohaska), the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (with Hélène Grimaud), the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra Mozart. Audio releases including Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with Yuja Wang and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; with the Orchestra Mozart, Bach’s Six Brandenburg Concertos, two albums of Mozart wind concertos, and Mozart Piano Concertos nos. 19 and 23 plus concert arias with Hélène Grimaud and Mojca Erdmann. The 2010 recording of Fidelio from Lucerne with Jonas Kaufmann was released on Decca Classics in summer 2011.
During 2012 he released, among the others, Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps on Decca.