Daniel Barenboim is to become the principal conductor at the world-famous La Scala opera house in Milan.
Mr Barenboim's predecessor quit after his musicians went on strike
The 63-year-old is currently musical director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and will oversee two productions a season until 2012.
He said his priority would be "to fight the lack of musical education, which is a real illness in our society".
The Argentine-born Israeli citizen's first performance will be a version of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem next year.
He replaces Riccardo Muti, who resigned after 19 years on the podium at La Scala following a strike by its orchestra and workers over his approach and musical choices.
Mr Barenboim is no stranger to La Scala's orchestra, having conducted Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in the venue's Christmas concert last year.
He said he planned to bring his "musical kindergarten" to Milan, offering children of pre-school age an early musical experience.
Mr Barenboim will retain his post as general musical director at the Staatsoper Unter den Linen in Berlin.