James Levine, Former Met Opera Maestro, Is Dead at 77

1 month ago
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Mr. Levine was the longtime musical leader of the Met and orchestras in Boston and Munich. But his career ended in a scandal over allegations of sexual improprieties.

James Levine, the guiding maestro of the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years and one of the world’s most influential and admired conductors until allegations of sexual abuse and harassment ended his career, died on March 9 in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 77.

His death was confirmed on Wednesday morning by Dr. Len Horovitz, his physician. The cause was not immediately released.

After investigating accounts of sexual improprieties by Mr. Levine with younger men stretching over decades, the Met first suspended and then fired him in 2018, a precipitous fall from grace. Mr. Levine fought back with a defamation lawsuit.

Before the scandal emerged, he was a widely beloved maestro who helped define the Met, the nation’s largest performing arts organization, for decades, expanding its repertory and burnishing its world-class orchestra. And his work extended well beyond that company. For seven years, starting in 2004, he was the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, earning high praise during his initial seasons for revitalizing that esteemed ensemble, championing contemporary music and commissioning major works by living composers.

Mr. Levine also served as music director of the Munich Philharmonic for five years (1999-2004). He had long associations with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as music director of its Ravinia Festival for more than 20 years.

His final years as a maestro were dogged by health crises, including a cancerous growth on his kidney and surgery to repair a rotator cuff after he tripped on the stage at Symphony Hall in Boston in 2006. The problems forced Mr. Levine to miss weeks, even months, of performances. In March 2011, facing reality, he resigned the Boston post.

A complete obituary will be published shortly.

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NYT > Arts > Music

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