Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, the former music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has retired permanently from the podium because of ill health, according to reports in the Italian media.
According to the music web site Suonare.it, Rome's Accademia di Santa Cecilia, where Sawallisch holds an hononary post, said this month that in the future "we will not have him, as we have every year, on the podium of the orchestra and chorus of the Accademia, to which he was passionately dedicated for decades."
The 82-year-old Sawallisch has canceled a series of appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and other groups this season because of an unspecified illness, and is not included on the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2006-07 season schedule. He has suffered from orthostatic hypotension, a blood pressure problem, in the past.
A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Orchestra said that the orchestra hadn't communicated with Sawallisch since the cancellation of his spring concerts with the orchestra, and couldn't confirm any change in his status.
Born in Germany, Sawallisch studied at Munich's Hochschule für Musik. In 1953, at the age of 30, he became general music director of the Aachen Opera, the youngest music director ever in a German opera house. He later held top posts at the opera houses of Wiesbaden, Cologne, Hamburg, and Munich and the Vienna Symphony and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. He was music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1993 to 2002.