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Goodbye to Berlin
16 May 2002 - Vienna

Claudio Abbado stepped down from the podium last night to rapturous applause from a Viennese audience acknowledging the Italian maestro's final official engagement as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

For well over half an hour, Vienna paid hommage to one of the twentieth century's finest conducting talents, showering the stage with flowers and drowning the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in ovation after ovation following a farewell performance of Mahler's Symphony No.7.

The boss in Berlin for the last dozen years, Abbado set his own seal firmly on the orchestra's style - no mean task given that the Berliners were still very much in the thrall of their heady days in the iron grip of the great Herbert von Karajan.

The choice of Vienna, some 700 kilometers distant from the hub of Abbado's center of operations, and home to one of the few orchestras to rival he BPO, remains unexplained, but his successor, Sir Simon Rattle was conducting Beethoven's Symphony No.9 the previous evening in the same city, so a sense of passing on the baton is at least given a suitable time and place.

Thu May 16 2002 (9:52:38 PM)