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Swiss Composer Liebermann Dies

January 3, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ Swiss composer Rolf Liebermann, who led the Hamburg Opera for more than a decade before sparking the revival of the moribund Paris Opera, has died. He was 88.

Liebermann died on Saturday in Paris, according to the Culture Ministry. The cause of death was not made public, and funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Liebermann spent 13 years as head of the Hamburg Opera, from 1959-72, before joining the Paris Opera as chief administrator at a time when it was being abandoned by the public and by stars.

The Liebermann years, from 1973-80, ``were those of revival, reform and a period of great splendor,″ Paris Opera Director Hughes Gall said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

``The way of envisaging lyric music and opera in this second half of the century would not have been the same without him,″ Gall said.

President Jacques Chirac said Liebermann was able to ``return to the Paris Opera all of its brilliance, its prestige and its culture.″

Born Sept. 14, 1910, in Zurich, Switzerland, Liebermann wrote numerous concertos, symphonies and operas, including ``Eleonore 40/45,″ ``Penelope,″ ``L’Ecole des Femmes″ and ``La Foret.″

Taking on the revival of the Paris Opera, Liebermann brought in some of the world’s great conductors, including Karl Bohm, Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel and Georg Solti. He even tapped the film and theater worlds, bringing in directors like Joseph Losey.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin noted that by rekindling public interest in the opera, Liebermann planted the seeds for the Bastille Opera, the ultra-modern house opened in 1989 with the aim of bringing opera to the people.

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