Russian-born conductor Rudolf Barshai dies aged 86: agent

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Russian-born conductor Rudolf Barshai has died in Switzerland aged 86, his agents in London said Thursday.

"He passed away on Tuesday at his home in Switzerland," a spokeswoman for Askonas Holt agents told AFP, adding that he had been in ailing health in the year before his death.

She added: "He worked until the last days, finally being able to finish his work that he considered a life-time achievement -- arranging Bach's The Art of Fugue."

Born in 1924 in Russia, Barshai gained world renown through the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which he founded in 1955.

He worked with some of the great contemporary composers -- he studied composition with Dmitry Shostakovich, who became a close personal friend, and discussed orchestration with Sergei Prokofiev.

Barshai left Russia after Shostakovich's death in 1975, directing orchestras in Vienna, London, Paris and Berlin.

One of his achievements was recording a complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies, while in 2000 he also completed his orchestration of Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony.

In addition, Barhsai played the viola and enjoyed a celebrated career as a soloist.

"The music world has lost a true great," his agents said.

© 2010 AFP

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