“Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated significantly over the past year,” he said. “I can no longer deliver the performance that is rightly demanded of a general manager of music.”
Barenboim said his years at the opera house on Berlin’s boulevard Unter den Linden “inspired us in every way musically and humanly”. And he said he was especially “happy and proud” that the Staatskapelle orchestra, located at the Staatsoper, has made him chief conductor for life.
“We have become a musical family over the years and will continue to be,” added Barenboim. He said he is still ready to conduct in the future.
In October, Barenboim announced he was “taking a step back” from some of his executive activities for a period of months after being diagnosed with a “serious neurological condition.”
He returned on Saturday and conducted a New Year’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony while seated, to loud applause from the audience.
Barenboim was given a five-year contract extension in 2019 that would have kept him at the opera house until 2027.
German Culture Minister Claudia Roth said Barenboim’s time at the head of the Staatsoper was “a godsend for Berlin and Germany, as he led the opera house and the Staatskapelle to world fame after the fall of the wall.” The opera is located in East Berlin, which was communist until 1990.
“I deeply regret his dismissal, wish him a good recovery and look forward to hopefully many more concerts and opera performances with him,” Roth said in a statement.