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 26-41 of 41 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Pavarotti & Levine In Recital / Italian Tenor
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000320809 Release Date: 09/14/2004  
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  James Levine,  Luciano Pavarotti
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  • 27.
    Beverly Sills - The Great Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000246902 Release Date: 05/11/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Douglas Moore,  Gioachino Rossini,  Rudolf Sieczynski,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Beverly Sills,  Nicolai Gedda,  Kenneth MacDonald,  Shirley Verrett  ... 
    Conductor:  Emerson Buckley,  James Levine,  Julius Rudel,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 28.
    My Figure Skating Album - All The Favourite Classics
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000186102 Release Date: 02/10/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Gustav Holst  ... 
    Performer:  Tamás Vásáry,  Gil Shaham,  Luben Yordanoff,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Yuri Ahronovitch,  Daniel Barenboim,  William Steinberg,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
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  • 29.
    Schubert:
    Label: Rca 24/96 Sound Dimension   Catalog: 55270 Release Date: 01/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Julius Levine,  John Dalley,  Emanuel Ax,  Michael Tree  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet members
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  • 30.
    For Your Life - For A Stormy Night
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000123412 Release Date: 10/14/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Maurice Ravel,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  James Levine,  Monica Huggett,  John Holloway,  Martin Lovett  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Arthur Fiedler,  Christopher Hogwood  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Boston Pops  ... 
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  • 31.
    Best Of The Millennium - Top 40 Classical Hits
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 463240 Release Date: 02/08/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Richard Wagner,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Schwalbé,  Cheryl Studer,  Mischa Maisky,  Yuli Reyentovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Norman Del Mar,  Daniel Barenboim,  Carlo Maria Giulini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
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  • 32.
    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
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  • 33.
    Complete Beethoven Edition Vol 14 - Misc. Chamber Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 453772 Release Date: 12/09/1997   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach,  Alois Posch,  Patrick Gallois,  Jean-Pierre Rampal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus String Quartet,  Hagen String Quartet,  Vienna Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble  ... 
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  • 34.
    Cecilia Bartoli - An Italian Songbook / James Levine
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455513 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli,  James Levine
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  • 35.
    Nightmoods - Night Wanderer
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 453904 Release Date: 06/10/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  James Levine,  Gerhart Hetzel,  Wolfram Christ  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio di Trieste,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart,  Hagen String Quartet  ... 
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  • 36.
    Forgotten Songs - Dawn Upshaw Sings Debussy / James Levine
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 67190 Release Date: 03/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  James Levine,  Dawn Upshaw
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  • 37.
    Kathleen Battle In Concert / James Levine
    Label: Dg Masters   Catalog: 445524 Release Date: 03/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Gabriel Fauré,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  James Levine,  Kathleen Battle
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  • 38.
    Schubert: Trout Quintet, Guitar Quartets /  Levine, Faust, Schulz, Sollscher
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431783 Release Date: 09/01/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Wolfram Christ,  Gerhart Hetzel,  Georg Faust,  Alois Posch  ... 
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  • 39.
    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
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  • 40.
    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
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  • 41.
    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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