Conductor Barenboim resigns from Berlin opera over ill health

World-renowned conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim said on Jan. 6 he was stepping down as general musical director of Berlin's State Opera due to deteriorating health, marking the end of an era at the fabled institution.

Argentina-born Barenboim has been acclaimed for a stellar career which saw him begin performing internationally as a pianist aged 10 and then become a leading conductor.

The child of Jewish piano teachers has also been an outspoken campaigner for peace in the Middle East."

Unfortunately my health condition significantly worsened in the last year," Barenboim, 80, said in a statement announcing his resignation from one of the world's top classical music venues.

"I can no longer deliver the performance rightly expected of a general musical director."Barenboim, who had held the position since 1992, asked Berlin's top culture official Klaus Lederer to release him from his contract on Jan. 31. It was not immediately clear who would succeed him.

The conductor said his years at one of Berlin's three premier opera houses had been "musically and personally inspiring in every way."

"I believe the State Opera and I brought each other great happiness," he said, adding that he was "especially pleased and proud" that the venue's Staatskapelle orchestra had in 2000 elected him chief conductor for life."

Over the years we became a musical family and will remain one," he said, also expressing his "veneration" of the opera house's solo singers, choir and staff.

He thanked former German chancellor Angela Merkel and ex-parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble for their loyal attendance at his performances, and Lederer for standing by him "in difficult times" in a reference to past allegations of him bullying...

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