Conductor Claudio Abbado around 1970. Photo courtesy of New York Philharmonic Archives.

In Sunday’s (6/25) New York Times, David Allen writes that Claudio Abbado, “the Italian conductor who died in 2014 but would have turned 90 on June 26 [believed that] power has nothing to do with music … ‘For me,’ Abbado [said], ‘power is always linked with dictatorship.’… What might Abbado call the power of music over people? ‘Love, or respect, or understanding, or tolerance,’ the conductor replied. ‘…Music is one of the most important things in life. It’s part of life itself. That has nothing to do with power.’ If Abbado’s life had a theme, it was this question of power: of what power means in music, where it comes from, and to what ends. Few of his peers enjoyed such a vita—before [becoming chief conductor of the] Berlin Philharmonic, he held posts at the Teatro Alla Scala, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera—yet were so ambivalent about authority and attention…. But what kinds of interpretations did Abbado’s approach engender? And how will they endure? Many certainly will last, on the evidence of a comprehensive collection of his recordings for the Deutsche Grammophon, Decca and Philips labels that the Universal Music Group released … It compiles 257 CDs and eight DVDs. The breadth is extraordinary.”