His final years - Thomas Schippers

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His final years

In 1976 Tommy was appointed as   resident conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia   in Rome beginning with the 1977-78 season. It is one of the oldest and most   prestigious musical institutions in the world and he was to have been the   first American conductor to attain such a position with this orchestra.   Sadly, he was never to fulfill his tenure there.
As early as Spring 1976 Tommy was   forced to cancel engagements due to his illness. Further on, in February of   1977, it was not possible for him to fulfill his commitment at the   Metropolitan Opera to conduct La Bohème. It was to be the first opera   televised from the Met. During the same period, he was unable to conduct   several performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He attempted to   conceal his poor state of health not only from the public but also, as far as   possible, from his close friends. The last performance he conducted was Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at La Scala in Milan in January 1977.
It was 7:55   in the evening on December 16, 1977. At 550 Park Avenue in Manhattan Thomas   Schippers, who had been ill for quite some time, passed away ending one of   the most brilliant American musical careers of that time. The attending   physician, William G. Cahan, certified that his death was due to natural   causes. From March 1977 until his death, Schippers was in the care of Dr.   Cahan who was a noted specialist for pulmonary carcinoma.
As he   wished, there was no funeral. And as he wished, he was cremated at the Garden   State Crematory in    North Bergen, New   Jersey two days later.
Following a concert and a commemorative ceremony, his ashes were placed in the wall next to the Duomo of Spoleto.
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