Star conductor Barenboim ends a year overshadowed by health problems in front of an audience in the concert hall. The 80-year-old will conduct New Year’s Eve and New Year’s at the State Opera. In the past few months he had had to cancel numerous concerts and trips abroad.

Classical music fans should be particularly excited about this “joy, beautiful spark of the gods”: Daniel Barenboim, who had been ill for a long time, returned to the conductor’s podium with Ludwig van Beethoven’s ninth symphony. The general music director of the Berlin State Opera will conduct the concerts at the turn of the year on December 31 and January 1, as the house announced. Up to 160 euros are being asked for tickets to the 80-minute concert.

The 80-year-old Barenboim announced his temporary retirement via social media in early October. “My health has deteriorated over the past few months and I have been diagnosed with a serious neurological condition,” he posted. He must now concentrate as much as possible on his physical well-being.

Recently, Barenboim had failed several times. In February he underwent surgery on his spine. The State Opera had to cancel a concert planned for the birthday in the Berlin Philharmonic, where Barenboim was supposed to sit at the piano. 86-year-old Zubin Mehta was to be the musical director.

Previously, Barenboim had already had to give up conducting the new production of Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” at the State Opera, which was realized for his birthday. He was replaced by Christian Thielemann and Thomas Guggeis at the podium.

The State Opera Orchestra also had to do without Barenboim at the foreign concerts in Denmark, South Korea and Japan. Christian Thielemann, the head of the Staatskapelle Dresden, stepped in for him in Seoul, Kumamoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Thielemann is considered a potential successor to Barenboim. The concerts in Aarhus and Aalborg were conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, musical director of the Chicago Opera.

Thielemann did not want to comment on a possible further cooperation. “We all learned at school: pacta sunt servanda. I have a contract in Dresden until 2024, which I am very happy to fulfill because I get along wonderfully with the orchestra and we have a wonderful time together.”