Levine, James

Levine, James, 1943–, American conductor, b. Cincinnati, Ohio. A piano prodigy, he was a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony at the age of 10. After extensive musical studies, he served (1964–65) as an apprentice to George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra, becoming (1965–70) its assistant conductor. Particularly renowned for his wide knowledge and sensitive performances of the operatic repertoire, Levine made his conducting debut with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in 1971. He became the opera's principal conductor in 1973, musical director in 1976, and artistic director in 1986, transforming its orchestra into a great opera and symphony ensemble. He stepped down as artistic director in 2004, but continued as music director and then (2016) music director emeritus. In 2018 he was fired for sexually abusive and harassing conduct; he then sued for breach of contract and defamation and was countersued by the Met; they settled in 2019. Levine also was music director of the Munich Philharmonic (1999–2004) and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (2004–11).

See Dialogues and Discoveries by R. C. Marsh (1998).

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