The news overnight that Claudio Abbado has died is deeply affecting. The Italian conductor was responsible for some of the most sublime music-making of our time. We are fortunate that so much of it was recorded and filmed, a treasury of inspiration that will be much valued as long as people care about the art form.
Mr. Abbado, who held top posts with La Scala, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony and several others, died "serenely" at the age of 80 in his home in Bologna, according to news reports.
That word "serenely" made me think of the "Urlicht" movement from Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, a composer whose music seemed to speak to Mr. Abbado in a particularly deep way. This video clip makes that very clear, and, given the awful news of the conductor's death, speaks even more eloquently now:
Oh, red rosebud, Man lies in greatest need, Man lies in greatest pain. I would rather be in heaven. Once I came upon a wide road. There stood an angel who wanted to turn me away. But I will not be turned away. I came from God, and will return to God, the loving God who will give me a little light to light my way to eternal, blessed life.
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