NEW YORK (AP) -- The music director of New York's Metropolitan Opera will take a break from conducting for the rest of the company's current season and the 2012-2013 season.

The company's general manager, Peter Gelb, announced Friday the hiatus would allow James Levine to recover from a spinal injury he suffered in August during a fall. The Met's longtime chief conductor underwent emergency surgery and has been hospitalized the past three months.

He expects to return to his Manhattan home next week, but Gelb says doctors expect full recovery for the 67-year-old musician to be a long-term process.

While he may be ready to conduct before the end of next season, the Met must meanwhile hire replacements.

Levine hopes to resume his other duties sooner, including coaching and artistic planning.