It is with great sadness that the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester informs of the passing away of its founder and music director, Claudio Abbado.
Throughout his life, Claudio Abbado passionately worked with young musicians and provided them with many opportunities. A few years after the successful foundation of the European Community Youth Orchestra, and always refusing to be hindered by any political or bureaucratic obstacles, it just seemed logical to Claudio Abbado to establish the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, a youth orchestra that reached beyond the borders of the European Community.
Dr. Erhard Busek, President of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, says: “Claudio Abbado was a visionary who, through the foundation of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, anticipated the European unification and continued to work tirelessly on it. We must not forget the obstacles which had to be overcome when, in 1986, Claudio Abbado invited musicians from Austria and the neighbouring states of the former Eastern Bloc to make music together. This is genuine European spirit and we bow in gratitude to Claudio Abbado, whose legacy we shall continue.”
The number of musicians who took part in projects of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and who later joined many of Europe’s leading orchestras is enormous. They all owe Claudio Abbado the decisive impetus for their musical life.
In addition to leading some of the most important musical institutions in the world, Claudio Abbado also devoted himself to the foundation of new orchestras. These have influenced musical life and orchestral culture in a decisive manner, and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester is proud to be the founding part of important ensembles such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the Orchestra Mozart.
Claudio Abbado fought, throughout his life, for his projects, his orchestras, and his beliefs. He often managed to realize projects that were apparently impossible with a truly visionary spirit.
Alexander Meraviglia-Crivelli, Secretary General of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester: “It was a great privilege to organise numerous concert tours under Claudio Abbado, including Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, a great North and South America tour with Mahler’s Symphony no. 7, or Wagner’s Parsifal in a scenic production by Peter Stein. Claudio Abbado always demanded the utmost devotion and dedication from his musicians and from his team. He was not an administrator but a visionary, and he has managed to achieve the seemingly impossible against doubters and bureaucrats. For him, the only thing that mattered was: Prima la musica – and this will always be an example and inspiration for all of us.”
Ever since its foundation, Claudio Abbado was involved in the development and the international success of his Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. For us, to commemorate him with great gratitude means to continue this project, maybe his most important one, with great dedication.