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Dr. Clemens Hellsberg
The Vienna Philharmonic, together with the entire music world, mourns the death of Claudio Abbado, an artistic personality who influenced and shaped our approach to music. Our orchestra's work with Abbado has long been considered as an "Era" in the annals of the orchestra's history. Between 1965 and 1997 he conducted over 320 Philharmonic concerts, including special events such as the Jeunesse rehearsals, and 27 opera performances within the framework of the Salzburg Festival. Including the 173 evenings which he conducted at the Vienna State Opera, he made far more than 500 appearances with our orchestra, not even to mention numerous recordings.
From Bach to Ligeti, from Handel to Webern, from Mozart to Boulez, from Schubert to Rihm - the wide range of repertoire which we performed with him, and particularly the special emphasison the works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, Mahler and Richard Strauss gives an idea of the expansion of horizons which our collaboration with Abbado signified. This collaboration extended into several spheres of Philharmonic activity: to the subscription concert series, in which he made 92 appearances; to the New Year's Concert, which he conducted in 1988 and 1991; to the concerts of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna; to the Vienna Festival, the Salzburg Mozart Festival; the Brucknerhaus in Linz and much more.
In addition to all this, for decades he was our most faithful tour conductor. By conducting 138 concerts 'on the road' he made an important contribution to the international reputation of the Vienna Philharmonic.In this capacity he was ever available for new adventures, such as our first trip to China in 1973. On the other hand, he also strived to make a lasting impression in our more traditional travel destinations. The Beethoven cycles in New York and Tokyo in 1987 and Paris in 1988 will always remain high points in the history of our orchestra.
Claudio Abbado made a deep impression upon the international music scene as well as upon our orchestra. The degree of earnestness with which he dealt with art, his efforts in contemporary music as well as on behalf of young people and his gentle but unrelenting striving for the highest quality of performance set standards which are not to be circumvented. These standards are the measure of our mutual collaboration which, at first, appears painfully incomplete. Following his grave illness, every attempt we made to bring him back to our podium (even through mutual friends among national and international presenters) was thwarted, which lends a tragic aspect of incompletion to an association which will always remain one of the most intensive and successful in the history of the orchestra. Yet, Claudio Abbado afforded us numerous shining moments precisely through his dedication to music and the exemplification of the sublimation of the tragic aspect which accompanies all great artists. In this spirit, the 'unfinished' aspect of our association with Claudio Abbado is transfigured by the gratitude which we send him upon his final journey.
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