BSO Music Director James Levine regrets that he will have to withdraw from the balance of the 2008 Tanglewood season. Because of a cyst causing pressure and discomfort, Levine will undergo surgery this week to have a kidney removed. The procedure has been described by Levine’s doctors as curative, with no other treatment necessary and with every expectation for a complete recovery. The anticipated recuperation period is six weeks -leaving ample time to prepare and conduct the season openings of the BSO and the Metropolitan Opera in September.

    “It is extremely frustrating that I need to have this surgery now,” said Levine. “My projects at Tanglewood have been planned so carefully and coordinated in such detail by the Festival administration. I especially regret not being here with Elliott Carter for his 100th birthday celebration, which I was looking forward to more than I can say. And I’m very disappointed at having to miss concerts with my colleagues in the BSO, as well as my work with the young musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center.”

    Mark Volpe, BSO Managing Director, expressed the sentiments of everyone at the Festival: “All of us at Tanglewood are very disappointed that James Levine will not be with us for his remaining concerts this summer,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. “However, we are primarily concerned for Jim’s health and well-being, and that everything be done to ensure a complete recovery so that he returns as soon as possible to his musical life with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera.”

    The 2008 Tanglewood concert schedule, which offers 67 ticketed performances and runs through Labor Day weekend, will not be disrupted, with all concerts to take place as originally scheduled. An announcement about guest conductors scheduled to take over Maestro Levine’s remaining Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center concerts will be forthcoming. Maestro Levine led the BSO, a cast of international soloists, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the opening weekend of the Tanglewood season, leading a performance of Berlioz’ monumental Les Troyens, July 5 and 6. Also last week, Maestro Levine led the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a performance of Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony.

Tanglewood, located in Lenox, MA, is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. For complete details about the 2008 Tanglewood season, visit

4 thoughts on “Bad news from Tanglewood: The BSO press release”
  1. David S, I certainly hope it’s just a temporary inconvenience. I’m still concerned since they’re removing the entire kidney, plus there was no statement to the effect that there is no concern about cancer. In most cases, telling the two apart on MRI or ultrasound is pretty easy and accurate. I’m wondering if they couldn’t rule out cancer from imaging alone, hence the need for surgery sooner rather than later. I also wonder if the surgery is being done in the traditional fashion or via laparoscopy. The former would require a longer recovery period, and would also suggest to me a concern about cancer.

    I’m really hoping my suspicions are wrong and that I’m overthinking it. Then again, I’m still not totally convinced that Steve Jobs’ recent weight loss is a result of his pancreatic surgery quite some time ago rather than a tumor recurrence. I’m hoping I’m wrong there as well.

  2. Well, I hope he’s okay. This reminds me of Tiger Woods: the breathtaking superstar side-lined in the middle of things with a nagging injury.

  3. Many times these renal cysts are innocuous and incidental findings on an ultrasound. My concern is that Levine’s situation requires surgery; people usually undergo surgery when these apparent cysts become complicated (like by bleeding, or infection ), and these symptoms are often what brings attention to the cyst in the first place. Not to be overly alarmist, but both a benign renal cyst and a cystic renal cell carcinoma can have similar symptoms. Hopefully the pathology will prove to be benign and this will be a minor speed bump. I wish him the best and a fast recovery; he’s a great conductor, pianist and advocate of contemporary music.

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