James Levine

Biography

Born: June 23, 1943  
Conductor and pianist James Levine is one of the powerhouse figures of the classical music scene today. At the age of ten he played Mendelssohn's second piano concerto at a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra youth concert. He studied piano at various summer music festivals before enrolling at New York's Juilliard School, where he took conducting courses with Jean Morel and continued piano studies with Rosina Lhevinne. Further conducting studies Read more included work at the Aspen Music Festival and with the American Conductors Project, a program run by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, after his Juilliard graduation in 1964.

George Szell of the Cleveland Orchestra then invited him to become an apprentice. At the conclusion of this term, he became an assistant conductor of the orchestra from 1965 to 1970. In 1973 he became the music director of both the Ravinia Festival (the Chicago Symphony's summer series) and of the Cincinnati May Festival. His debut with the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York also came in a summer festival appearance; on June 5, 1971, he conducted Puccini's Tosca.

In 1973, following the sudden departure of music director Rafael Kubelik over artistic differences, the Metropolitan Opera appointed Levine its principal conductor. In 1975 the position was redesignated "music director." Although Kubelik was the first conductor ever to have been given that title at the Metropolitan, he did not remain there long enough to actually exercise the wide responsibilities it implies; Levine was effectively the first music director of the Met. In 1986 his position was further expanded to "artistic director," which implies control over all aspects of the stage presentation, not just the music.

Levine's tenure at the Metropolitan has been one of the longest such associations between an opera company and its chief conductor, providing the company with one of its greatest and most stable periods. His season planning has been outstanding, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra owes its reputation as a world-class ensemble to his leadership.

He began in 1975 to appear regularly at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, where his performances of Mozart were highly esteemed, and proved himself an excellent Wagnerian in his appearances at the Bayreuth Festival beginning in 1982. However, his guest conducting availability has been limited: he considers the artistic leadership of the Metropolitan to be a full-time, year-round job. When time allows, he performs as a pianist in chamber music and as an accompanist for singers.

Levine commands a wide repertoire in opera and also in the concert hall, ranging from Bach, Haydn, and Mozart to Iannis Xenakis. He is known for an open and engaging personality which appears in his rehearsals as well, but this does not prevent him from conducting them with businesslike efficiency. In 1996 the Metropolitan conducted a televised celebration of 25th anniversary of Levine's first performance there in the form of a gala. So many singers agreed to appear that the event lasted over eight hours -- conducted entirely by Levine. He has produced a large number of recordings with the Metropolitan Opera and other opera houses, as well as orchestral recordings with the Chicago Symphony and other great orchestras. He is also noted as a pianist who has accompanied many of the world's top vocalists and participated in several chamber music recordings. In 2004, Levin became music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 25 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Evgeny Kissin: The Complete RCA & Sony Classical Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5033827 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Evgeny Kissin,  Mikhail Milman,  Boris Garlitsky,  Vladimir Spivakov  ... 
    Conductor:  Valery Gergiev,  Vladimir Spivakov,  Seiji Ozawa,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Brahms: Lieder & Liebeslieder Waltzes
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002498202 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Matthew Polenzani,  James Levine,  Magdalena Kozená,  Yefim Bronfman  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 3.
    Great Moments at Carnegie Hall (Selected Highlights)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 530420 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Paul de Schlözer,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Ronald Turini,  Artur Rubinstein,  Jorge Bolet,  Van Cliburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Arturo Toscanini,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra of St. Luke's
    CD: $11.99
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  • 4.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 5.
    Schubert: Quintet in C; Schumann: Piano Quintet in E / Levine, Harrell, Lasalle Quartet
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186227 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Lynn Harrell,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  LaSalle String Quartet
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 6.
    James Levine conducts Brahms
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 686042 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Emanuel Ax,  Kathleen Battle,  James Levine,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
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  • 7.
    Mozart 111 [55-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001766872 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Emil Gilels,  Elena Gilels,  Maurizio Pollini  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  James Levine,  Herbert von Karajan,  Marc Minkowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $164.49
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  • 8.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $62.49
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  • 9.
    Mozart, Beethoven: Quintets For Piano & Winds / Levine, Ensemble Wien-Berlin
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2072308 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
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  • 10.
    Schubert: Trout Quintet, Death & The Maiden / Levine, Hagen Quartet
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471740 Release Date: 09/23/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
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    $16.99
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  • 11.
    Dvorák: Cello Concerto; Prokofiev, Debussy, Webern / Harrell, Levine
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 85067 Release Date: 12/04/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Claude Debussy,  Anton Webern,  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  James Levine,  Lynn Harrell
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 12.
    Mozart, Beethoven: Quintets For Piano & Wind / Levine
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 419785 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin members
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 13.
    Beethoven: Complete Cello Sonatas; Schubert, Mendelssohn / Harrell, Levine
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 85066 Release Date: 10/26/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Lynn Harrell,  James Levine
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  • 14.
    James Levine Plays Scott Joplin
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 85068 Release Date: 10/26/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  James Levine
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  • 15.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No 1, 8 Lieder / Ax, Levine, Battle, Hagegard
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 85062 Release Date: 10/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  James Levine,  Kathleen Battle,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd,  Emanuel Ax
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 16.
    Schubert: Winterreise / Christa Ludwig, James Levine
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423366 Release Date: 10/23/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  James Levine
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 17.
    Schubert: String Quintet;  Schumann: Piano Quintet
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435071 Release Date: 09/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Lynn Harrell,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  LaSalle String Quartet
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 18.
    Mozart: Kegelstatt-trio, Etc / Levine, Ensemble Wien Berlin
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431782 Release Date: 08/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Karl Leister,  Wolfram Christ,  James Levine,  Margit Anna Süss  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 19.
    Dvorak: Cello Concerto; Schubert: Arpeggione / Harrell
    Label: Rca Papillion   Catalog: 6531 Release Date: 07/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Lynn Harrell,  James Levine
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 20.
    Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin / Uwe Heilmann, James Levine
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 440354 Release Date: 07/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Uwe Heilmann,  James Levine
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    Verbier Festival & Academy 10th Anniversary Piano Extravaganza
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61860 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Benjamin,  Richard Wagner,  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Evgeny Kissin,  Staffan Scheja,  James Levine,  Emanuel Ax  ... 
    DVD: $14.99
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  • 22.
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1187 Release Date: 11/30/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Maurice Ravel,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  James Levine,  Tatiana Troyanos
    CD: $15.99
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  • 23.
    Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, Etc / Levine, Chicago So
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431625 Release Date: 06/15/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  James Levine
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 24.
    Scott Joplin - Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60842 Release Date: 09/06/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  James Levine,  Dick Hyman
    CD: $8.99
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  • 25.
    Poulenc: Chamber Music / Levine, Ensemble Wien-Berlin
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 427639 Release Date: 10/20/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  James Levine,  HansJörg Schellenberger,  Milan Turkovic,  Karl Leister  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
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