March 18, 2021

James Levine, Former Metropolitan Opera Music Director Dies Aged 77 — Cause of Death Revealed

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James Levine, known as the face of the New York Metropolitan Opera for over 40 years, died on March 9. 

James Levine, well known as the former music director of New York's Metropolitan Opera, died on March 9, 2021, at the age of 77. 

 He died in Palm Springs, California, and his physician Dr. Len Horovitz confirmed that it was of natural causes. It was not revealed why there was a delay between his death and the announcement. 

James Levine prior to the season premiere of the Metropolitan Opera/Otto Schenk production of Richard Wagner's 'Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg' in New York, November 28, 2014. | Getty Images



Levine played an influential role as conductor, as he was music director at the Metropolitan Opera between 1976 and 2016. He was the conductor at more than 2,500 performances and founded the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. 

Despite his enormous contribution towards the Met Orchestra and Chorus's growth, a year after Levine left his position, accusations of sexual abuse came to light. The Metropolitan Opera wrote on their website: 

"His relationship with the company frayed in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct, in 2018 he was removed from his position as Music Director Emeritus" 




The allegations were made by nine men, claiming that Levine had sexually harassed them as students or young professionals in the industry. The accusations were from more than 10 years ago. 

Bunny Wailer, known as a reggae icon, also passed away. The musician died at 73 in his home country Jamaica.

Levine decided to take the Met to court, suing them for millions. The institution countersued the former director with the case ending in a settlement and the Met paying Levine $3.5 million. 



Regardless of the strife between Levine and the Met at the end of his career, the institution still honored the conductor for his contribution to the Met and everything that he had achieved. 

The Met listed many performances that Levine held the reins of, which were the first of their kind to be performed there, and acknowledged the time, effort, and expertise he had invested into the institution. They wrote

"Celebrated for shaping the Met Orchestra and Chorus into the finest in the world, he was also responsible for considerably expanding the Met repertoire."




Levine, who was nominated for and won a plethora of Grammy Awards stretching back to the beginning of his career in 1974, is among many other Hollywood favorites that have died this year. 

Bunny Wailer, known as a reggae icon, also passed away. The musician died at 73 in his home country Jamaica. He was the last surviving member of "The Wailer," with Bob Marley dying in 1981. 

Another musician lost this year is jazz pianist Chick Corea. The legendary musician died at 79, only a few weeks after receiving the diagnosis of a scarce form of cancer. 

Corea was a pillar in the jazz community, winning 23 Grammys with 67 nominations behind his name. He was part of the "Miles Davis' band" and has more than 80 albums with his name on them.