James Levine won't be back, as previously hoped, for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's first two programs of Beethoven symphonies, according to an announcement made this morning.
Levine abruptly announced late last month that he would need surgery for a herniated spinal disk, marking the third time in five years leading the BSO that he would miss time due to injury. His manager had said he would return most likely by Oct. 22, when the BSO began a cycle of Beethoven symphonies programmed by Levine.
Today, the BSO announced that Levine's doctors want him to delay his return until Oct. 28. The Oct. 22, 23 and 24 concerts (Beethoven Symphonies 1, 2 and 5) will be conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and the Oct. 27 and 29 concerts (Beethoven Symphonies 4 and 3) by BSO Assistant Conductor, Julian Kuerti.
The BSO states that Levine will return for the rest of the Beethoven cycle, starting Oct. 30.
“We’re thrilled that James Levine is well on the road to recovery from his back surgery, and we look forward to having him return to the BSO podium for performances of Beethoven’s Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth symphonies at the end of the month,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe in a statement. “Though we are all disappointed that he will miss the first two programs of the BSO’s Beethoven cycle, Jim’s full recovery is the first priority. We look forward to his return to the BSO podium and to the incredible focus, drive, and commitment we’ve all come to expect from his singular music making with the BSO. We are very grateful to Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Julian Kuerti for graciously stepping in to cover the first two Symphony Hall Beethoven programs.”