Italian orchestra conductor Claudio Abbado, whose baton directed the Berlin Philharmonic, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera for years, died Monday in Bologna. He was 80.

Abbado was named Italian senator for life last August and decided to donate his salary to a music school in the little town of Fiesole in his final move to promote classical music.

Claudio Abbado was born in Milan on June 26, 1933. His father was a violinist and conservatory professor, and his mother was a pianist.

He debuted as a conductor in 1958 in Trieste and later moved on to Milan's La Scala opera house, where he was music director from 1968 to 1986, a position he held together that of principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1989, and was music director of the Vienna State Opera from 1986 to 1991.

Abbado was known in Italy as the "revolutionary" conductor because of his presentations of classical music in jails and children's hospitals, considering that "musical education is, in fact, the education of man."

In 2010 he also directed the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, and took charge of mentoring and promoting the young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

During his long career he received many honors, including the Italian title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce and France's Legion d'Honneur. EFE