Claudio Abbado’s grave is also fading away

Claudio Abbado’s grave is also fading away


norman lebrecht

March 24, 2023

Further to our report yesterday on the shocking state of the Karajan grave at Anif,we have received photos of Claudio Abbado’s more recent Swiss grave in Fex Crasta (Graubünden/Oberengadin/Sils Maria).

His is the grave next to ‘Giovagnoli Willy’.

Abbado’s dates ‘1933-2014’ are no longer readeable. His name will not survive another winter.

Surely Deutsche Grammophon could supply a tub of restorative paint (preferably not yellow).

This is no laughing matter. Respect must be paid.



  • Alan says:

    What planet are you living on? since when was it the responsibiltiy of a record company to take care of a person’s grave?

  • William Osborne says:

    Perhaps a reminder that conductors highly marketed and idolized in their time, rightly or wrongly become only small footnotes in the history of music, if remembered at all. Still, may they rest in peace.

    • ChrysanthemumFan says:

      Yes, but it’s pretty awful that any gravestone’s engraving be nearly completely weathered away after a mere nine years!

    • Cole says:

      Some will be remembered: Talich, Toscanini, Barbirolli, Böhm, Kempe, Kertész, Kleiber, Kondrashin, Munch, Monteux, Mariotti, Mravinsky, Muti, Markevitch, de Sabata, Furtwängler, Beecham, Boult, Brüggen, Biondi, Ord, Wulstan, Zedda, Christie, Gardiner, Gergiev, Abbado, Antonini, Alessandrini, Ančerl, Richter, Reiner, Gregor, Walter, Karajan, Bernstein, Blomstedt, Svetlanov, Rozhdestvensky — those who left irreplaceable work.

      But not the Maazels, Mehtas, Barenboims, Conlons, Salonens, Sargents, Sinopolis, Slatkins, Susskinds, Stokowskis, Ormandys, Ozawas, Rattles, Rescignos, Vottos, Gardellis, Gelmettis, Järvis, Jansonses, Boulezes, Bátizes, Tates, Tilson Thomases, López Coboses, Leppards, Levines, Jordans, Ashkenazys, Boskovskys, Scimones, Schwarzes, Sawallisches, Soltis, Cleoburys, Eschenbachs, Hegers, Hagers, Harnoncourts, Hogwashes, Kubelíks, Plassons, Pappanos, Naganos, de Billys or de Waarts!

      • Simon says:

        Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

        Btw it says a lot when you put the likes of Solti, Ormandy, among many other shocking names, in the category that shouldn’t be remembered but a pathetic fiddler like Biondi, that sounds like he’s going to break his fingers every time he’s shifting, should be remembered… Simply staggering

      • Samach says:

        You seem to be doing a great job remembering them all!

        Geeeezus, what obsessive-compulsive mind one must have to type out all the names — with all the proper accent marks and not a single typo while adding the correct “s” or “es” to them — of everyone you supposedly should have forgotten!

      • Gustavo says:

        You could have at least sorted your random lists in alphabetical order.

        Btw, you forgot the Alsops, Berglunds, Celibidaches, Dudamels, Fischers, Gilberts, Haitinks, Inbals, Jurowskis, Kuhns, Mengelbergs, Nelsonses, Nosedas, Oramos, Parays, Segerstams, Thielemanns, and Wands.

        • SM says:

          And where is Mitropoulos? (She asked rhetorically.)

          • NYMike says:

            And Koussevitzky?

          • Gustavo says:

            And Previn?

          • Novagerio says:

            SM: Mitropoulos’s grave (memorial) is in great shape, at the Herodion in Athens.
            So is Toscanini’s, at Cimitero Monumentale in Milano (Horowitz rests there too)

            Concerning Karajan’s grave in Anif, that’s something the widow Elliette and the Karajan Stiftung Salzburg should attend to.
            And Abbado’s? Apparently his many wives & girlfriends have forgotten him (as has his son Daniele)

        • Cole says:

          I’m with William Osborne on Celibidache: someone to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

        • Roland says:

          And how about the Szells! Which group are they in?

      • microview says:

        Obviously you have never heard the Elgar 2 he did at Colston Hall Bristol: issued as a BBC Magazine cover mount disc some years ago. There’s much else of true value left by Sargent – his earlier Decca Planets comes to mind.

        • Cole says:

          Sargent managed to ruin the Sinfonia antartica, the cantata Hodie, RVW 9, and Troilus and Cressida (twice, a decade apart), irking two great composers.

      • emailia.grimaldi says:

        I suspect anyone you ask would shuffle the names you have mentioned around – and others of their own. To my ears though, you have made blunders on both sides of the argument, and it shows a lack of taste to a shocking degree.

      • sempre libero says:

        What a joke, who are you? The music God to decide? Almost 100% you will not be even a note on this blog, or any musical history.

      • Chang Tou Liang says:

        Who’s Hogwash?

      • Matt D says:

        Well, Ashkenazy gets bonus points for piano. He definitely belongs in the top box…

    • Mark Mortimer says:

      Quite William- good point- but the same for everyone- not just conductors. Their memory & legacy (even Abbado & Karajan- who were immensely gifted & charismatic men- with some terrific performances/recordings for posterity) is swiftly forgotten- the next generation moves in & the world goes on…

  • A.L. says:

    Respect indeed. Once again, we have no one today at his level. Abbado was a music aristocrat, an extinct breed. Sad.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      But he endures in our hearts, our CDs and what footage is available online. Performing artists have the rare advantage of ‘living on’, long after they’ve died. I’ve often wondered what this must be like for loved ones and families.

  • MMcGrath says:

    This is really hard to believe. We made this conductor – rightfully so – into a god. And we neglect his grave? The world gets weirder and sicker every day.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “I knew him, Horatio: a man of excellent jest and fancy…he hath borne me on his back a thousand times” (Hamlet).

      For most of us we will be completely forgotten, only ‘living’ in the memory of others who were close to us. No matter how fancy our graves.

  • Hugo Preuß says:

    Are conductors the only people on earth without relatives? Presumably they have left their considerable fortune to someone or some foundation. If the heirs do not see any obligation to care for the grave, I fail to see how a record company should be held accountable!

    • Nick2 says:

      As others have written, why on earth should record companies be responsible for maintaining grave sites? I’ll bet their shareholders would have something to say about that! After all, how many additional CDs would that be likely to sell!

      For most of us a grave is a family matter. That the families of two great conductors like Abbado and von Karajan are in such a state is surely an indictment on their families and heirs. Only if the grave is placed in a Church (Bach) or a Concert or other public venue should others bear any responsibility.

  • Paul Johnson says:

    This is absolutely appalling, maybe fans of Abbado should start a fundraise. I’d contribute.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Agree. When the great German actor Conrad Veidt died (in Los Angeles) in 1943 his ashes languished in limbo for decades and after his widow died in 1980 some enthusiasts formed a group and had them despatched back to the UK (where he was a citizen after leaving Germany during the Nazi era) and interred at Golders Green.

      That’s what it took!!

  • Samach says:

    “Abbado’s dates ‘1933-2014’ are no longer readeable”

    because they were never inscribed, which is exactly how he wanted it, timeless and with humility, what, you want his name gold plated?

    Not everyone builds mausoleums for themselves.

    • Max Raimi says:

      “Mausoleum, n: the final and funniest folly of the rich.”
      From Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary.

  • Gustavo says:

    Looks like “The Complete Recordings” boxset containing 257 CDs could fit perfectly into Abbado’s last abode.

  • Marc says:

    Go complain to the Abbados and the von Karajans. All our graves will fade.

  • Henry williams says:

    Some families visit their parents grave a few times a year. Like that they make sure it is looked after.

  • Rob says:

    Bruckner’s still in pretty good shape, or was, the last time he was seen in 1996

    download photos…

  • ShaSha Zipkin says:

    If the 2 families can’t or won’t step up, how about a go-fund-me fundraiser?

    • anon says:

      From what I understand, Abbado was not a very good father, so is it any surprise that the “families” have little or no inclination to “step up”.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    His art is to be remembered, not his ashes.

  • Pedro says:

    Could you check how the tombs of vin Brenner, von Bülow, Strauss, Nikisch, Borchard, Celibidache and Furtwängler are doing? Maybe there is a Berlin curse going on. Not good for Rattle and Petrenko.

  • MacroV says:

    Abbado’s many recordings and the memories of the thousands of musicians he worked with and millions who saw him over the decades will ensure the survival of his memory far more than the condition of his grave.

  • Gerard says:


  • Tone Deaf says:

    A conductor will be remembered, or forgotten, by the recordings that he made, which seems to be much more of a living memory than a grave.

  • trumpetherald says:

    Another completely wrong and misleading article….His life dates were never inscribed into the stone…..I visited this place in 2016 and it looked exactly the same….Even on the photo you can clearly see no traces of such an inscription.

  • Jobim75 says:

    A lesson of humility. This grand bourgeois with very generous and altruist ideas could finance them with 200 or 300 euros tickets he used to sell. Well now he’s closer to his ideas dead than he was alive, and for some time. May he rest in peace…

  • French musiclover says:

    I sent there eight years ago. The letters were never painted, and there were NEVER any dates ! Inside the church, a book is opened where you can leave a word. The Val Fex is a magical place, a sort of malherian nature, remote, with a unique quality of silence and peace (begining october, there were only very few people walking), and you could understand a lot about the personality of this very great artist…

  • Tom M. says:

    Could it be the fault of the mason who carved the inscription? Other inscriptions for persons who died before Abbado are still sharp and clear.

  • Richard says:

    Bronze markers don’t decay with time