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James Levine

James Levine was born into a musical family: his grandfather on his mother’s side had been a cantor in a synagogue, his father was a violinist and dance-band leader, and his mother was an actress. He began to play the piano at the age of four, and made his concert debut when he was ten, performing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He went on to study orchestral repertoire, style and interpretation as well as chamber music with Walter Levin, the first violinist of the LaSalle String Quartet; received piano lessons from Rudolf Serkin at the 1956 Marlboro Music Festival; and from Rosina Lhévinne at the Aspen Music School from 1957 onwards. Levine also received conducting tuition from Wolfgang Vacano at Aspen. He entered the Juilliard School in 1961, to study conducting with Jean Morel and piano with Lhévinne, graduating in 1964 and joining the Ford Foundation’s American Conductors Programme run in association with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This brought him into contact with Alfred Wallenstein, Max Rudolf and Fausto Cleva, as well as most importantly George Szell.



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