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Claudio Abbado, renowned Italian conductor, dies at 80

Claudio Abbado, the renowned Italian conductor who served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan for nearly 20 years and led such prestigious groups as the London Symphony Orchestra, has died at 80. The conductor's death was announced Monday by La Scala.

Abbado died at his home in Bologna, Italy, following a long illness, according to reports. 

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Abbado won admiration from musicians and audiences all over the world for his masterful interpretations and diverse repertoire.  A native of Milan, Abbado served as La Scala's music director from 1968 to 1986. 

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His tenure at the storied opera company was one of the most fruitful collaborations in classical music during the 20th century. 

Abbado would go on to serve as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. He also served as music director of the Vienna State Opera for five years until illness cut his tenure short in 1991.

Starting in 1990, Abbado experienced a number of serious health setbacks that would mark the final years of his career. He had surgery to treat stomach cancer in 2000.

Abbado spent most of his career in Europe, but he conducted frequently in the United States and served as a principal guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

La Scala paid tribute to Abbado on Monday, issuing a statement that said "this is his theater" and describing him as a "man of the theater ready to take risks, a man of thought open to the world."

Here's the full Times obituary on Abbado.

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