Virtuoso pianist Daniel Barenboim has been acclaimed for a career which saw him begin performing internationally as a pianist aged 10 and then become a leading conductor.
Famed conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim has announced that he would step down as general musical director of Berlin's State Opera owing to ill health.
"Unfortunately my health condition significantly worsened in the last year," Barenboim, 80, said in a statement on Friday announcing his resignation from one of the world's top opera venues.
"I can no longer deliver the performance rightly expected of a general musical director."
Argentina-born Barenboim has been acclaimed for a stellar career which saw him begin performing internationally as a pianist aged 10 and then become a leading conductor.
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Barenboim, who had held the position since 1992, asked Berlin's top culture official Klaus Lederer to release him from his contract on January 31.
It was not immediately clear who would succeed him.
The conductor said his years at one of Berlin's three premier opera houses had been "musically and personally inspiring in every way."
"I believe the State Opera and I brought each other great happiness," he said, adding that he was "especially pleased and proud" that the venue's Staatskapelle orchestra had elected him chief conductor for life.
"Over the years we became a musical family and will remain one," he said, also expressing his "veneration" of the opera house's solo singers, choir and staff.
He thanked former German chancellor Angela Merkel and ex-parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble for their loyal attendance at his performances, and Lederer for standing by him "in difficult times" in a reference to past allegations of him bullying musicians.
"I will of course remain –– as long as I live –– deeply connected with the music and am ready to continue conducting, especially with the Staatskapelle Berlin," he said.
Barenboim had most recently conducted two sold-out New Year's concerts of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the State Opera.
The German capital's Philharmonic hall said he would take up the baton as planned for three performances this weekend.
In October, Barenboim said he would be dropping "some of his performing activities, especially conducting engagements", in the coming months after he was diagnosed with a "serious neurological condition".
Barenboim had already cancelled a series of concerts for health reasons last year.
State Opera house director Matthias Schulz said the venue owed Barenboim its "eternal gratitude" and expressed his "great respect" for his decision to step aside.
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