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Music

A moment of silence for Claudio Abbado

A performance on Thursday by the Berlin Philharmonic under conductor Zubin Mehta offered an occasion for a moving memorial concert to the orchestra's former principal conductor, who died this week.

Concert-goers at the Berlin Philharmonic experienced a powerful moment on Thursday (23.01.2014) evening. After a speech by Martin Hoffmann, the director of the Berlin Philharmonic, the audience stood up for a minute of silence - a gesture intended to honor conductor Claudio Abbado, who died on Monday.

The orchestra's musicians then played the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony. For music lovers in Germany's capital, the connection was clear: during his tenure as the Berlin Philharmonic's principal director, Abbado devoted much attention to Mahler. The Adagietto was followed by silence, rather than applause, and one observer said the moment brought tears to the eyes of some.

The concert, conducted by Abbado's friend Zubin Mehta, continued with works by Anton Webern, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Strauss. A table in the foyer showed a picture of Claudio Abbado. Next to it was a book of condolence in which guests could record their memories - a testament to the degree to which the Italian maestro was cherished in Berlin. One attendee wrote, "It was a duty for me to be part of this."

Claudio Abbado served as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1990 to 2002. The 80-year-old died on Monday due to complications relating to cancer. Concerts scheduled for May 16 to 18, which Abbado was originally slated to lead, will now be held in his honor and performed in some cases without a conductor.

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