CHICAGO, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Daniel Barenboim will step down as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when his contract expires in 2006, the BBC reported Friday.
The 61-year-old conductor and pianist decided not to renew his contract after more than 15 years in the job because he wants to focus on performing, the British news service said.
Barenboim, who is also general music director of the Berlin Opera, recently set up an orchestra made up of young Arabs and Israeli musicians to prove there can be "productive co-existence."
Speaking about his departure, Baranboim said: "After much soul-searching and reflection, I have come to realize that the position and responsibilities of a music director in America are changing in that they require many non-artistic duties, and I feel I have neither the energy nor the time to fulfill them."
Barenboim became music director designate in 1989, succeeding the late Georg Solti in 1991.