Born on 26 June 1933, Claudio Abbado never actively sought a music director position. He didn’t need to; orchestras recruited him. He was associated with the London Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic. Opera, too: La Scala, the Vienna State Opera. Here in the States, he was noted for his work with the Chicago Symphony.
Claudio Abbado died today at his Bologna home following an extended illness. He was 80.
The Guardian has a thoughtful and detailed remembrance.
[H]e raised a superband of players all gathered together for his sake, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, to heights that many listeners have never experienced in other orchestral concerts.
A recording producer defined his special gift as a sense of "absolute pulse" – more precisely, an unerring sense of the right and natural tempo relations in a piece that could give shape and meaning even to the most seemingly amorphous of works, and within that a supple life to the individual musical phrases that no contemporary has equaled.