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Biography

World-renowned conductor Riccardo Muti was appointed the 10th music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in May 2008. Maestro Muti will begin a five-year contract as music director in September of the 2010-2011 season, serving as music director designate effective January 2009.

Born in Naples, Italy, Riccardo Muti first came to the attention of critics and public in 1967, when he was unanimously awarded first place at the Guido Cantelli Competition for conductors in Milan. The following year, he was appointed principal conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a position he maintained until 1980. In 1971, Muti was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, the first of many occasions, which led to a celebration of 30 years of artistic collaboration with this festival in 2001. From 1972 until 1982, Muti was chief conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra; from 1980 to 1992, he served as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and from 1986 to 2005, he was music director of the Teatro alla Scala. During his tenure at La Scala he undertook such projects as the Mozart–Da Ponte trilogy and Wagner’s “Ring” cycle and reopened the newly restored La Scala with AntonioSalieri’s “Europa riconosciuta,” originally commissioned for La Scala’s inaugural performance in 1778.

Over the course of his extraordinary career, Riccardo Muti has conducted most of the important orchestras in the world, from the Berlin Philharmonic to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic to the Orchestre National de France, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic, with which he has appeared at the Salzburg Festival since 1971. In December 2003, he conducted the opening concert of the newly renovated La Fenice Opera House in Venice.

In 2004, Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, consisting of young musicians selected by an international committee from some 600 instrumentalists from all over Italy. In May 2007, Maestro Muti began a new five-year project dedicated to the Neapolitan School of the 18th Century with the Cherubini Orchestra as part of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

Muti’s recording activities have received recognition in the form of many prizes, and span the classical symphonic and operatic repertories to contemporary works.

Maestro Muti made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in July 1973. In September of 2007—for the first time in over 30 years—Maestro Muti appeared with the CSO in a month-long residency that included two weeks of remarkable subscription concerts, a sold-out opening night gala and a triumphant European tour, which marked the Orchestra’s first performances in Italy in more than 25 years.

Riccardo Muti’s social and civic conscience as an artist is demonstrated by concerts in a number of locations symbolizing our troubled past and contemporary history, which he has conducted as part of the Ravenna Festival’s Le vie dell’Amicizia (The paths of friendship) project. These include Sarajevo, Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Yerevan, Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, El Diem and Tunisia.

Innumerable honors have been bestowed on Riccardo Muti over the course of his career. He has been made a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic and has received the City of Milan’s Gran Medaglia d’Oro, as well as the Verdienstkreuz from Germany. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in France and made a Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in Britain. The Salzburg Mozarteum awarded him its silver medal for his contribution to Mozart’s music and he was elected an honorary member of the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle and the Wiener Staatsoper. Russian President Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship, and the State of Israel has honored him with the Wolf Prize for the arts. He has received honorary degrees from many universities in Italy and abroad as well as the Abbiati Prize.

Maestro Muti studied piano at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella under Vincenzo Vitale, graduating with distinction. He subsequently received a diploma in composition and conducting from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he studied with Bruno Bettinelli and Antonino Votto.

This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 21 Feb 2010
steven - 21 Feb 2010
steven - 21 Feb 2010
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