Maestro James Levine has Passed Away at 77

It was announced on March 17th, 2021 that longtime Metropolitan Opera (‘The Met’) Music Director James Levine passed away on March 9th, 2021 at the age of 77 in Palm Springs, California.

Maestro Levine, unlike many other conductors of his generation, was well known for his 40+ year tenure at The Met, starting out conducting a performance of Puccini’s Tosca in 1971.  In 1973, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the The Met and then Music Director in 1975.

However, he was also known internationally, leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004-2011 after first conducting with them in 1972.  He also was the Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic (1999-2004) and the Ravinia Festival.  He also guest conducted with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.

He also appeared the Bayreuth Festival, conducting Parsifal 10 times between 1982 and 1993, and a complete Ring Cycle from 1994 to 1998.

In 1980, he would initiate the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program at The Met.

In later years, Maestro Levine would suffer from health issues – starting with a torn rotator cuff after falling off the podium while conducting with the Boston Symphony.  He would lose a kidney in 2008, followed by back surgery for a herniated disk a year later.  In 2016, he would admit that he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease since 1994 and was confined to a wheelchair since 2011 after a series of falls.

In late 2017, allegations came out that he had allegedly molested four young men in the 1970s and 1980s.  He would be suspended, and then terminated, by the Boston Symphony and The Met leading to a lawsuit between him and The Met.  The allegations ruined his career and left a dark cloud over his career.

Maestro Levine leaves behind a vast list of recordings, including the Disney film, Fantasia 2000 and video and audio recordings of many operas he conducted at The Met – including most of the Wagner repertoire, such as The Met’s famous 1990 recording of The Ring Cycle directed by Otto Schenk.

He was the son of Lawrence, a violinist, and Helen Goldstein Levine who had a brief career as Helen Golden on Broadway.  He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 23rd, 1943.  He passed away on March 9th of natural causes according to his doctor.

About Edward Brain

I am a long time condo activist and have a background in Business Administration.
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