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In 1976 Schippers was appointed as resident conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome beginning with the 1977-78 season. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious musical institutions in the world and Schippers was to have been the first American conductor to attain such a position with this orchestra. Sadly, he was never to fulfil his tenure there.

As early as Spring 1976 Tom was forced to cancel engagements due to his illness. Further on in February of 1977 he was unable to fulfil his engagement at the Metropolitan Opera to conduct La Bohème and was replaced by James Levine. During the same period he was unable to conduct several performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Schippers attempted to conceal his poor state of health not only from the public but also, as far as possible, from his close friends not even confiding in his assistant in New York that he had undergone surgery.

Schippers passed away from cancer of the lung on December 16, 1977 at 7:55 pm in his home at 550 Park Avenue New York. In accordance with his wishes he was cremated the following day. His ashes were placed in the wall adjacent to the Duomo in Spoleto in May 1979.


Ceremony at the Piazza del Duomo in Spoleto for the placement of Schippers’ ashes in 1979.

Courtesy of Private Collector


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