MILAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, a former director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, has died aged 80 after a long illness, Milan opera house Teatro alla Scala said on Monday.
Called the world's greatest conductor by the Financial Times, Abbado was ceremonially named an Italian Senator for Life by President Giorgio Napolitano last August.
Abbado was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, but three years later went on to form the Lucerne orchestra, individually selecting most of the members himself.
He succumbed to another bout of illness in May 2010, forcing La Scala to cancel concerts at which he had been due to conduct.
Alexander Pereira, who will take over as manager of La Scala in 2015, told an Austrian newspaper in June last year that Abbado was among his two ideal candidates for the post of music director at La Scala. (Reporting by Sara Rossi and Isla Binnie; Editng by Susan Fenton)