Abbado has led the orchestra since its much-acclaimed rebirth in summer 2003. The original Festival Orchestra, founded by Arturo Toscanini in 1938, eventually declined in quality and shut down in 1993.
In addition to conducting its summer performances at Lucerne, Abbado will lead the orchestra in annual fall residencies, traveling to Rome in October of this year, to Tokyo in October 2006, and to Carnegie Hall in October 2007.
Abbado served as the music director of La Scala for 18 years, of the Vienna State Opera for five years, and of the Berlin Philharmonic for 13 years ending in 2002. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2000, but has since recovered.