Ill health has forced celebrated conductor James Levine to step down from leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

BSO officials and Levine jointly announced his resignation as music director on Wednesday — just a day after he withdrew his participation from the rest of the season.

Levine officially steps down as of Sept. 1.

"Given the challenges regarding my health and the ensuing absences that they have forced me to take from my work with the BSO, I believe it is best for everyone, but especially the orchestra and our wonderful audiences, for me to step down," Levine said in a statement.

"I make this decision knowing that I need to focus more of my attention on getting back to better health, so when I do return to the BSO podium I can continue the important work the orchestra and I have done together during the period of my music directorship."

BSO managing director Mark Volpe said Levine's health issues have made this "a challenging time for all of us in the Boston Symphony Orchestra family.

"We wish Maestro Levine the absolute best as he steps down from his role ...to tend to the health issues that have forced him to be away from the music-making he so profoundly loves," Volpe said.

The company says it will continue conversations with the New York-based conductor about a new role after his recovery.

Levine has weathered several health issues over the past few years, including two back surgeries, a torn rotator cuff suffered in an onstage fall and the removal of a cancerous cyst from one of his kidneys.

The conductor also suffers from sciatica and has battled weight issues.

Levine, who has served as music director for the BSO since 2004, also fulfills the same top post with New York's Metropolitan Opera. A former piano prodigy from Cincinnati, he is one of classical music's best-known figures.