Latest Issue

Performance notes: Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado conducted the best concert I have ever attended—and then surpassed it with his simply extraordinary Mahler’s 9th

By Martin Kettle   October 2010

Maestro: Abbado conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra

In my hot youth, to borrow from Byron, the palm (or should it be baton?) for the title of most legendary living conductor undoubtedly belonged to Sergiu Celibidache. The Romanian had given up the job of principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1952, never recorded, rarely performed, demanded immense rehearsal time, increasingly adopted strikingly slow tempi, and was famous for cancelling at the last minute. The only time I ever saw him conduct he appeared, appropriately, with that other legendary recluse and last-minute canceller, the Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.

When Celibidache…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect