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Posted at 4:35 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Levine cancels appearances, steps down in Boston

By Anne Midgette

ADDED: In Thursday's Washington Post:
After a string of cancellations, Levine resigns from Boston post, by Anne Midgette.

Or, read the story here:

James Levine, beset by yet another setback in his ongoing struggles with ill health, yesterday announced the cancellation of his upcoming appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including the orchestra's appearance at the Kennedy Center on March 19.

Today, this announcement was followed by the not entirely unexpected news that Levine will step down from the BSO music director post altogether.

As of September 1, 2011, he will no longer serve in that capacity. A search committee is being formed to identify his successor.

Levine has been music director of the BSO since 2004. There have reportedly been some wonderful concerts, but his tenure has been largely overshadowed by health concerns involving repeated cancellations; he has missed large portions of several seasons.

The BSO's managing director, Mark Volpe, said in a statement that the orchestra would work with Levine to define "a new role where he can focus solely on the music and defining artistically stimulating projects that would be meaningful to him and the orchestra."

This announcement does not affect Levine's work with the Metropolitan Opera, where he remains music director and is conducting the start of the company's new "Ring" cycle; "Die Walkuere" will have its premiere in April.

The BSO's Washington performance on the 19th will now be conducted by Roberto Abbado. The pot is further sweetened for audiences by a complete program change; Peter Serkin will now join the orchestra playing Bartok's 3rd piano concerto, and the other works will be Haydn's Symphony No. 93 and Beethoven's Fifth. (Originally planned: Wagner's prelude and Liebestod from "Tristan," Mozart's "Jupiter" symphony, Schumann's 3rd.)

By Anne Midgette  | March 2, 2011; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  national, news, opera  
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Anne, when Levine faced health problems last year, you speculated in the Post that Riccardo Chailly was a prime contender as his successor. Do you still feel that's the case? I suspect we're more likely to see an established figure than an up-and-coming type like Robertson or Spano. Levine has set the artistic/expectations/marketing bar quite high, and I'll bet the BSO is wary of choosing the wrong young artist a la Ozawa.

Posted by: SteelyTom | March 3, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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