I have known Claudio Abbado since the beginning of the 1950s, at the time he studied the piano with Gulda at the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 1956, we both participated in a conducting course in Siena and since then, we have shared a long musical and human friendship. I treasure many special memories, most recently of course of his return to the Scala in Milan in 2012 when we performed together in concert.
With Claudio Abbado, we lose one of the greatest musicians of the past 50 years and one of the very few musicians who had a very strong connection with the spirit of music across the different genres.
His commitment to contemporary music was particularly noteworthy, as he worked closely with composers such as Nono, Ligeti and Kurtag and performed their works during his tenure as Music Director at the Scala in Milan. Perhaps most significant, however, was his support of young musicians through his founding of many important youth orchestras. In this sense, he was a pioneer who worked with young musicians, challenged and supported them, throughout his entire career. With this, he set an example for the world, maintaining that young and inexperienced musicians can make music at the highest level when they work with the right attitude and commitment. We owe him this, and so much more.
– Daniel Barenboim, 20 January, 2014