James Levine, the leading maestro of the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years and one of the world’s most influential and admired conductors until allegations of sexual abuse and harassment ended his career, died on March 9th in Palm Springs, California. He was 77 years old.
His death was announced on Wednesday morning by his doctor, Dr. Len Horovitz confirmed. The cause was not released immediately.
After the Met investigated reports of Mr. Levine’s sexual inadequacies with younger men that spanned decades, the Met initially suspended him and dismissed him in 2018, a steep fall from grace. Mr. Levine filed a defamation lawsuit.
Before the scandal arose, he was a popular maestro who for decades helped define the Met, the country’s largest performing arts organization, expand its repertoire, and polish its world-class orchestra. And his work went way beyond this company. Starting in 2004, he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for seven years, and in its early seasons was highly praised for reviving this prestigious ensemble, promoting contemporary music and commissioning major works by living composers.
Mr. Levine was also music director of the Munich Philharmonic for five years (1999-2004). He had longstanding connections with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as music director of the Ravinia Festival for more than 20 years.
His last years as a maestro were marked by health crises, including a cancerous growth in his kidney and surgery to repair a rotator cuff after he stumbled on stage at Boston Symphony Hall in 2006. The problems forced Mr. Levine to miss weeks. even months of performing. In March 2011, faced with the reality, he resigned from his post in Boston.
A full obituary will be released shortly.