Obituary: Italian Pianist and Composer Marcello Abbado Dies, Aged 93

By Logan Martell
(Credit: Image from Scherzo)

Italian pianist and composer Marcello Abbado passed away on June 4, 2020.

Born in Milan on October 7, 1926, Abbado was raised in a family of famous musicians; his father was violinist Michelangelo Abbado, and his brother Claudio was music director of the Teatro alla Scala and the Vienna State Opera. He studied piano at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory and performed worldwide at venues in Beijing, Budapest, London, Milan, Montreal, New York, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Vienna, among others. His repertoire included works from Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, the entire piano works of Debussy, and more.

Abbado taught music composition at the Conservatory of Bologna, as well as in Parma, Piacenza, and Pesaro. He served on the board of the Teatro alla Scala for 24 years and was artistic director of the Symphonic Orchestra of Milan “Giuseppe Verdi,” which he formed with Vladimir Delman. Abbado was also president of several international music competitions, such as Vienna’s Beethoven Competition, and the Maria Canal International Music Competition in Barcelona. For his work, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Meritorious Culture and Art by the Government of Italy in 1989.

Over the decades, Abbado composed an extensive body of work, including ballets, choral and orchestral pieces, and chamber music. He is survived by his two sons, Roberto and Adriano Abbado.

On social media, his son Roberto said, “Yesterday June 4 my father Marcello Abbado left us. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, in his home in Someraro di Stresa. He was 93 years old. His memory will always be in my heart and his dedication to music will be an example for me to follow, as it always has been.”