The Monday announcement left the Ottawa, Ontario-based orchestra scrambling to find replacement conductors for five programs, the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.
The Israeli-born violinist and conductor said he plans on performing in other cities during his sabbatical, but not with the Ottawa orchestra.
NACO Managing Director Christopher Deacon told the newspaper Zuckerman remained under contract through the 2006-2007 season.
"To me it's understandable that he would need to take a break," Deacon said. "He has made the job two or three times bigger than the last two artistic directors."