PRINCIPAL GUEST CONDUCTOR (1982–1985)
Claudio Abbado was a native of Milan, Italy, where he studied piano and composition at the Verdi Conservatory. He continued his studies in conducting at the Vienna Academy and in 1958 won the Koussevitzky Award in conducting at the Berkshire Music Center. In 1965, Abbado was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, setting in motion a tremendous career.
A frequent and beloved guest conductor, Abbado made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in January 1971. He returned to Chicago frequently, both before and after his tenure as principal guest conductor. His residencies included numerous collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and he also led the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on multiple occasions. Claudio Abbado recorded extensively with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus beginning in 1976 through 1991 on several labels, including Maurizio Pollini’s Grammy® Award–winning recording of Bartók's First and Second piano concertos for Deutsche Grammophon.
Claudio Abbado died on January 20, 2014, at the age of 80.