Herbert von Karajan died in July 1989, after nearly 35 years as the orchestra’s artistic director. His successor was a familiar face. Claudio Abbado conducted the Philharmonic for the first time in 1966 and had earned the musicians’ highest esteem in the intervening years. He is not an orchestral trainer in the manner of his predecessors. Abbado leads through the sheer force of his conviction and his artistic presence. Abbado’s programmes brought a pronounced shift in emphasis. Each cycle of concerts was given a thematic focus – for example, “Faust” or “The Wanderer” or “Music is Fun for All”. This conceptual modernisation corresponded to a significant rejuvenation of the Philharmonic itself. Well over half of the current membership joined the orchestra during this time. In February 1998 Claudio Abbado announced that he would not renew his contract beyond the 2001/2002 season, and in June of the following year the Berliner Philharmoniker elected a new chief conductor.