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Claudio Abbado (1933 – 2014) was one of the greatest conductors of our time, an upstanding character of deep intellectual prowess who possessed a profound and absolute work ethic. The city of Ferrara, of all the Italian cities, had the honour and privilege of his full and prolonged artistic commitment and testimony.

It was here, to Ferrara, after many years of absence from Italy, at the height of his international fame, Abbado decided to return and take the reigns once more: cultivating the renowned Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. From 1989 onwards, he was involved in all the series of concerts, directing opera productions that led Ferrara onto the International Stage. Thanks to Abbado, Ferrara saw prominent protagonists grace its stage such as Luca Ronconi, Roberto Benigni, Luciano Pavarotti and Martha Argerich.

In 1989, Claudio Abbado set up Ferrara Musica to work side by side with the Teatro Comunale of Ferrara in order to create a fixed residence for Italian Orchestras made up of some of the best young European Artists. He found Ferrara to be a city full of potential, pro-active in its willingness to conquer new challenges and seek out new adventures. The project gathered ground quickly and achieved even better results than initially expected. The presence of Abbado was decisive in starting a process that deeply affected the overall development of Ferrara and its Theatre, strengthening and developing its potential and thus making it a point of reference of international importance.

In May 2012, this connection was further strengthened when the earthquake that hit Emilia Romagna, put a significant part of the artistic heritage of Ferrara at risk. When the whole community was still reeling from the blow and in the grip of confusion, Claudio Abbado instantly understood that the city could only be protected and preserved through immediate mobilization. A Special concert for the city of Ferrara was held and saw him direct the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival alongside Maurizio Pollini. It was the catalyst for a demonstration of solidarity without precedent, seeing private and institution’s contributions pour in, not only Ferrara and further afield in Italy but from all over the world.

Without the commitment and determination of Claudio Abbado, Ferrara Musica’s cultural achievements would not have been possible. Today, seven years after his death, the memory of Abbado is still with us and guides our work everyday.

© Associazione Ferrara Musica/Marco Caselli Nirmal