Daniel Barenboim leaves Berlin Staatsoper job after 30 years

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FILE — Daniel Barenboim, general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin, gestures during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Daniel Barenboim on Friday announced his resignation as the general music director of Berlin’s Staatsoper, a job that he has held for over three decades, saying that his health has become too poor to carry on. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

BERLIN (AP) — Daniel Barenboim on Friday announced his resignation as the general music director of Berlin’s Staatsoper, a job that he has held for over three decades, saying that his health has become too poor to carry on.

The renowned conductor and pianist, who turned 80 in November, has been in the post since 1992. In a statement issued by the Staatsoper, he said he will step down on Jan. 31.

“Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated significantly in the past year,” he said. “I can no longer deliver the performance that is rightly demanded of a general music director.”

Barenboim said that his years at the opera house on Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard “inspired us in every respect in musical and human terms.” And he said he was particularly “happy and proud” that the Staatskapelle orchestra, based at the Staatsoper, made him its chief conductor for life.

“We became a musical family over the years and will continue to be one,” Barenboim added. He said that he is still ready to conduct in the future.

In October, Barenboim announced that he was “taking a step back” from some of his performing activities for a period of months after being diagnosed with a “serious neurological condition.”

He returned on Saturday, conducting a New Year performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony sitting down, to loud applause from the audience.

Barenboim in 2019 was granted a five-year contract extension that would have kept him at the opera house until 2027.

Germany’s culture minister, Claudia Roth, said that Barenboim’s time at the head of the Staatsoper “was a godsend for Berlin and Germany, because he led the opera house and the Staatskapelle to world renown after the fall of the Wall.” The opera is located in what was communist East Berlin until 1990.

“I very much regret his resignation, wish him a good recovery and look forward to hopefully many further concerts and opera performances with him,” Roth said in a statement.

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