By then 76, and suffering from stomach cancer, he kept a low profile. Despite immense press and public interest, he turned down all interview requests and stayed at a quiet hotel several miles away from the concert venue. Although more used to chauffeured cars and private jets, he took the subway every day.
"From Guomao Station to Tiananmen West, Abbado stood in the middle of the crowd," the Beijing Evening Post reported. "Regrettably, no one recognised who he was and no one would give their seat to this elderly man. But he seemed to be enjoying himself," the paper added.