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Levine Resigns As Boston Symphony Music Director

James Levine, the Boston Symphony Orchestra music director, in a 2006 file photo (AP)

James Levine, the Boston Symphony Orchestra music director, in a 2006 file photo (AP)

BOSTON — The Boston Symphony Orchestra is looking for a new music director.

Conductor James Levine is stepping down from the position on Sept. 1 because of ill health.

The BSO announced the resignation Wednesday, a day after Levine withdrew from his remaining schedule this season because of ill effects from a recent procedure intended to fix lingering back problems and complications from a viral infection.

Levine says he needs to “focus more of my attention on getting back to better health” and the resignation is in the best interest of everyone.

Levine, who is also music director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, says he’ll continue that position. He’ll also have an “ongoing” role with the BSO that’s still being defined.

Levine had back surgery last year and missed the BSO’s 2010 summer season at Tanglewood. He’s in his seventh season with the orchestra. He’s been battling a slew of health issues since 2005.

“People are sad,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. “You know those first two years were incredible, and then he started, one after another after another.”

Volpe says the BSO and Levine began discussing this option last November and the decision was a joint one.

With reporting from WBUR’s Andrea Shea. This story also contains material from The Associated Press.

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