Music conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch dies

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BERLIN -- German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, acclaimed for his musical brilliance and unpretentious leadership of the Bavarian State Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra, has died. He was 89.

The Munich-based Bavarian State Opera, which Sawallisch led from 1971 to 1992, said he died Friday at his home in Grassau, southern Germany.

"His enormous personality and unrivaled artistry shaped this house for decades," the opera's current head, Nikolaus Bachler, said in a statement Sunday. "His name is linked to the Munich opera like no other. His influence continues to be felt until this day and will continue to do so."

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Sawallisch also conducted the Bayreuth Festival, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, La Scala in Milan and Tokyo's NHK Orchestra, among others.

Taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1993, at age 70, he guided the ensemble through a decade of financial and artistic turmoil. He was criticized for his traditional approach, but others praised the purity of his performance.-- AP

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