Wolfgang Sawallisch dies aged 89

25 February 2013, 11:00

The conductor, who led the Philadelphia orchestra and the Bavarian State Opera Munich died on Friday at his home in Germany.

Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch died on Friday at his home in Grassau, Germany. He was 89.

Born on August 26 1923, Sawallisch first attempted to play at piano at the age of five, impressing his grandfather so much that his father was advised to give the boy lessons. He won his first competition aged 10, but after seeing a production of Hansel and Gretel at the Bavarian State Opera a year later, he decided he wanted to become a conductor.

After studying at the Munich conservatory, he was appointed as a conductor in Augsburg. He subsequently directed at the operas of Aachen, Wiesbaden and Cologne.

He conducted many of the world's greatest orchestras, including the Orchestra Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milan, the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Concertgebouw Orkest, the Vienna Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1982 he became artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera, before taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 70 in 1993. Tonight's performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Bavarian State Opera is to be performed in his honour.