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Former CSO guest conductor Claudio Abbado dies at age 80

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The renowned Italian conductor Claudio Abbado died today in his home at the age of 80. Abbado was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's principal guest conductor from 1982 to 1985.

Raffaella Grimaudo, a spokeswoman for the mayor of Bologna, told the Associated Press that Abbado had died following a long illness. The cause was not stated, although the Washington Post reported that Mr. Abbado had suffered a series of recent health setbacks, including a diagnosis of stomach cancer in 2000.

Abbado debuted in 1960 at La Scala and eventually became the opera house's music director for nearly 20 years. Other appointments included musical director of the Vienna State Opera, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's current conductor, Riccardo Muti issued a statement about Abbado on the ensemble's website today.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of a great musician, a man who for many decades has marked history in the world of conducting and musical interpretation for international institutions," Muti said. “His work is an immense testimony to the importance of European and Italian culture around the world. I admire him for the strong courage he showed in the face of a long and terrible illness, and for the seriousness and profundity that characterized his life as a musician and as a Maestro.”

A Claudio Abbado retrospective is available on the CSO's website.

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