James Levine, the immensely accomplished conductor who wielded power and influence in the classical world, and whose singular tenure at the Metropolitan Opera ended in a flurry of accusations of sexual abuse, died on March 9 in Palm Springs, Calif. His physician of 17 years, Dr. Len Horovitz, confirmed his death to NPR, saying that Levine died of natural causes. He was 77 years old.

Over four and a half decades, Levine shaped the sound and reputation of New York’s storied Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts organization in the country, through his conducting, coaching of singers and choristers and fine-tuning the pit musicians into one of the world’s great orchestras. Levine led more than 2,500 performances at the opera house, beginning in 1971, when he made his debut, until his final performance on Dec. 2, 2017.

That same evening, the Met issued a statement saying it was suspending the conductor pending an investigation into “multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.” Additional accusers came forward over the next several months, alleging harassing or abusive behavior dating back to the conductor’s early career, when the accusers were Levine’s teenaged students or mentees. In all, nine men publicly accused Levine of having abused them. The company formally fired Levine in March 2018.

In addition to his years with the Met, Levine served as the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) from 2004 to 2011, and was the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic for five seasons. He was a frequent guest conductor of the world’s finest orchestras, with special relationships in Berlin and Vienna. He routinely gave recitals — sometimes with other pianists, such as Evgeny Kissin, and especially as an accompanist to celebrated opera singers, including Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle. In 2006, the Boston Globe reported that with combined salaries from both the Met and the BSO totaling $3.5 million, Levine was the highest paid conductor in the U.S.

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