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VIENNA (Reuters) - Franz Welser-Moest, one of Austria's most famous conductors, has quit as musical director of Vienna's famed State Opera just days after its 2014-15 season began, citing an artistic clash with its director.
In a brief statement on Friday he said he had informed artistic director Dominique Meyer of his decision to resign, citing "long-standing artistic differences that were not resolved in several discussions".
The abrupt departure of the award-winning Welser-Moest - who has twice conducted the New Year's concert of the Vienna Philharmonic which is broadcast live around the world - leaves the Opera scrambling for a replacement.
In a statement to the Austria Press Agency, Meyer said he regretted the conductor's exit.
"This is of course a great loss and the step also sorrows me personally because I very much value Franz Welser-Moest as an artist and director," he said.
"My concern and primary mandate is to find as quickly as possible an adequate replacement for the performances that he was to have conducted at the Vienna State Opera in 2014/15: 34 performances including the two premiers of Rigoletto and Elektra that were planned with him," Meyer added.
Welser-Moest, 54, is also musical director of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Toby Chopra