Riccardo Muti
Muti in 2008
Born (1941-07-28) 28 July 1941 (age 82)
Naples, Italy
Alma materConservatory of San Pietro a

Milan Conservatory
Years active1963–present
SpouseCristina Mazzavillani (m. 1969)

Riccardo Muti OMRI GCSG (Italian: [rikˈkardo ˈmuːti]; born 28 July 1941) is an Italian conductor. He currently holds two music directorships, at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Music Director Emeritus since 2023) and at the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini. Muti has previously held posts at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

A prolific recording artist, Muti has received numerous honours and awards, including two Grammy Awards. He is especially associated with the music of Giuseppe Verdi. Among the world's leading conductors, in a 2015 Bachtrack poll, he was ranked by music critics as the world's fifth best living conductor.[1]

Childhood and education

Riccardo Muti, Premio Cantelli Teatro Coccia di Novara, 1967

Muti was born in Naples but he spent his early childhood in Molfetta, near Bari, in the long region of Apulia on Italy's southern Adriatic coast. His father, Domenico, was a pathologist in Molfetta, as well as an amateur singer and great music lover; his mother, Gilda, a reserved and severe Neapolitan woman with five children.[2][3]

Muti graduated from Liceo classico (Classical Lyceum) Vittorio Emanuele II in Naples, then studied piano at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella under Vincenzo Vitale; here Muti was awarded a diploma cum laude. He was subsequently awarded a diploma in Composition and Conducting by the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, Milan, where he studied with the composer Bruno Bettinelli and the conductor Antonino Votto. He has also studied composition with Nino Rota, whom he considers a mentor. He was unanimously awarded first place by the jury of the "Guido Cantelli Competition for Conductors" in Milan in 1967 and became, the next year, principal conductor and music director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, a post he held for eleven years.


Early career

Since 1971 he has been a frequent conductor of operas and concerts at the Salzburg Festival, where he is particularly known for his Mozart opera performances. From 1972 Muti regularly conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and in 1973 he was appointed its principal conductor, succeeding Otto Klemperer.[4]

In 1986, Muti became principal conductor of the Filarmonica della Scala, Milan, with which in 1988 he received the Viotti d'Oro and toured Europe. In 1989 he conducted a live performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni that was recorded on a DVD. In 1991, after twelve years as music director, he announced his resignation from the Philadelphia Orchestra, effective at the end of the 1991–1992 season.

In 1995 he was the president of the jury of the International Composing Competition "2 Agosto".[5]

Berlin and Vienna

Muti has been a regular guest of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic. In 1996, he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic during Vienna Festival Week and on tour to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Germany; he most recently toured with the Vienna Philharmonic to Japan in 2008. Muti has also led the orchestra's Vienna New Year's Concert on six occasions to date: in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2018 and 2021 (and is scheduled to lead it for the 7th occasion in 2025).[6]

Work in opera

Apart from his work at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, where he was music director for 19 years, Muti has led operatic performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and productions in the principal opera houses of Rome (from 1969), Ravenna, Vienna, London (from 1977), Munich (from 1979), and, finally, in 2010, New York. His work with the Vienna State Opera has included Aida in 1973, La forza del destino in 1974, Norma in 1977, Rigoletto in 1983, Così fan tutte in 1996 and 2008, Don Giovanni in 1999, and The Marriage of Figaro in 2001.

Appearances in Salzburg

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2019)
Salzburg Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler with Riccardo Muti, 14 August 2016

Muti first conducted at the Salzburg Festival in 1971 with Donizetti's Don Pasquale (staged by Ladislav Stros). Muti has subsequently appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival, conducting both numerous concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and opera productions, such as Così fan tutte (staged by Michael Hampe) from 1982 to 1985 and from 1990 to 1991, La clemenza di Tito (staged by Peter Brenner) in 1988 and 1989, Don Giovanni (staged by Michael Hampe) in 1990 and 1991, La traviata (staged by Lluis Pasqual, and designed by Luciano Damiani) in 1995, Die Zauberflöte in 2005 (staged by Graham Vick) and 2006 (staged by Pierre Audi, stage designed by Karel Appel), Otello (staged by Stephen Langridge) in 2008, Moise et Pharaon (staged by Jürgen Flimm) in 2009, and Orfeo ed Euridice (staged by Dieter Dorn) in 2010. In 2011, Muti conducted a new production of Verdi's Macbeth, which was directed by Peter Stein.[7] For the 2017 Salzburg Festival, he conducted Aida, directed by Shirin Neshat. Muti also owns a residence close to Salzburg.

From 2007 to 2011, Muti was the principal conductor at Salzburg's Whitsun Festival. He conducted productions of rare Italian operas from the 18th century, and concerts with his Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra.

Muti with Vladimir Putin after a performance in Moscow, 1 June 2000

Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy

In July 2015, Riccardo Muti's desire to devote even more to the training of young musicians was realised: the first edition of the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy for young conductors, répétiteurs and singers took place with great acclaim at Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna and talented young musicians, as well as an audience of music-lovers from around the world participated. The academy has as its purpose to pass on to young musicians Riccardo Muti's experience and lessons and to make the audience understand in its full complexity the path to accomplish an opera production.[8]

In the United States

Philadelphia and New York

In the United States, from 1980 to 1992 Muti was music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he led on numerous international tours. In 1979, he was appointed its music director and, in 1992, conductor laureate. Muti stated that his approach was to remain faithful to the intent of the composer. This meant a change from applying the lush "Philadelphia Sound," created by his predecessors Eugene Ormandy and Leopold Stokowski, to all repertoire; however, many of his recordings with that orchestra largely seem to do away with its hallmark sound, even in the works of such composers as Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and other high romantics. His sonic changes to the orchestra remain controversial. Some felt he turned it into a generic-sounding institution with a lean sound much favoured by modern recording engineers. Others believe Muti uncovered the true intention of the works, which had been covered in a silky sheen by Muti's predecessor. Since his departure from Philadelphia, he has made very few guest conducting appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, most recently in 2005.[9]

Muti had been a regular and popular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic. The orchestra's musicians had reportedly been interested – towards the end of the tenures of Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel, and before Muti took the Chicago post – in having the conductor as their music director, but Muti stated that he had no wish to take on the position.[10][11]


Muti had first guest-conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in 1973 at the Ravinia Festival but did not return as a guest conductor with the CSO until 2007.[12] Deborah Rutter, then president of the CSO saw him in Paris and persuaded him to come guest conduct and tour; he explained later, he thought he was too tired to start a "new adventure", but "immediately it was something that happened between me and the orchestra."[13]

In May 2008, the CSO named Muti its next music director, effective with the 2010–2011 season, with an initial contract of five years. His most recent contract extension, announced in January 2018, is through the 2021–2022 season.[12] In January 2020, the CSO confirmed that Muti is to conclude his music directorship of the orchestra at the close of the 2021–2022 season.[14] In September 2021, the CSO announced a revision to Muti's contract as its music director, with an extension of the scheduled closing date of his tenure to the end of the 2022–2023 season.[15] Muti announced that he will step down as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2022–2023 season.[16] According to classical music critic Zachery Wolffe, his directorship in Chicago was an "enormous success" with "pristine yet intense, powerful yet graceful" performances of operas in concert, canonical orchestral pieces, new premiers, and "rarities of the past".[13] In June 2023, it was announced that beginning in the 2024–2025 season Muti would be named Music Director Emeritus for life, and continue occasional performances.[17]

End of tenure in Milan

In 2003, there were reports of artistic and programming conflicts at La Scala between musical director and principal conductor Muti and general manager Carlo Fontana.[18] Muti did not attend the press conference that announced the 2003–04 season. The appointment in 2003 of Mauro Meli as La Scala's artistic director was intended to calm the conflict between Fontana and Muti.[19]

On 24 February 2005, La Scala governors dismissed Fontana as general manager and named Meli as his successor.[20] The musicians sided with Fontana against Muti at this point in the dispute, and on 13 March, Muti stated that he would refuse to conduct the La Scala orchestra from that point on.[21] On 16 March 2005, the orchestra and staff of La Scala voted overwhelmingly against Muti in a motion of no-confidence.[22] Muti was forced to cancel a concert prior to the vote, and some other productions were disrupted at the theatre because of continuing rifts with Fontana's supporters. On 2 April, he resigned from La Scala, citing "hostility" from staff members.[23][24]

In August 2009, Muti was said to be named the next music director of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, effective December 2010,[25] but the news given by the mayor (and therefore president of Opera di Roma) Gianni Alemanno was not true. Alemanno, instead, announced in October 2011 that Muti accepted an invitation by the Orchestra of Opera di Roma to become a "lifetime conductor" of Opera di Roma.[26]

Political intervention

On the night of 12 March 2011, Rome's Teatro dell'Opera staged the first in a series of scheduled performances of Verdi's opera Nabucco, conducted by Muti. After the end of the chorus "Va, pensiero", which contains the lyrics "Oh mia patria, sì bella e perduta" ("Oh my country, so beautiful and so lost"), the audience applauded "heartily." Muti, breaking with opera protocol and the strict conventions of composer Verdi himself,[27] turned to the audience and delivered a small speech, referring to the severe budget cuts announced by the Berlusconi government[28] which would particularly affect the funding of the arts. He spoke of the need to keep culture alive in Italy, prompted, as he later stated, by the belief that "killing culture in a country like Italy is a crime against society. Culture is the spiritual glue that holds a people together."[27] He then invited the audience to participate in an encore of the "Va, pensiero" chorus – the invitation and the encore also a break from tradition for an opera performance.[29] The opera audience stood up and sang along with the on-stage chorus.[30] Muti recalls that "80 percent of the audience knew the lyrics" and sang along, while "some members of the chorus were in tears."[27]

On 18 March, the performance of Nabucco was repeated in front of Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Muti, who had stated that it had been the first time in his life that he conducted chorus and audience together and also the last,[27] on that occasion conducted the Verdi opera in the "orthodox" manner.[30]

Personal life

Muti is married to Maria Cristina Mazzavillani, the founder and director of the Ravenna Festival.[31] They have two sons, Domenico and Francesco, and a daughter, Chiara, who is married to the pianist David Fray.[32]

In 2010, Muti wrote an autobiography. The following year, it was translated and published in English as Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words. Music critic John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune described Muti's memoir as "fascinating."[33]

Repertoire and recordings

External audio
audio icon You may listen to Riccardo Muti conducting Gioachino Rossini's opera William Tell with La Scala Opera Orchestra and Giorgio Zancanaro, Chris Merritt and Cheryl Studer in 1988 here on archive.org

With the Philadelphia Orchestra, his recordings include a Beethoven symphony cycle, the symphonies of Brahms and Scriabin, selected works of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, as well as less-known works of composers such as Puccini and Busoni.

Muti is considered one of the world's greatest conductors of the operas of Verdi. He also led a series of annual performances of opera in concerts including the works of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Wagner. In 1992, Muti conducted performances of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci with Luciano Pavarotti. A recording was also made of these performances.

At La Scala, Muti was noted for exploring lesser-known works of the Classical- and early Romantic-era repertory such as Lodoiska by Cherubini and La vestale by Spontini.





  1. ^ Pullinger, Mark (3 September 2015). "Chailly and the Berliner Philharmoniker: the critics' choice for World's Best Conductor and Orchestra". Bachtrack. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Muti, la mia infanzia a Molfetta quando in regalo ebbi un violino". www.lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it.
  3. ^ "Riccardo Muti recalls childhood memories of a 'caro nome'". www.csosoundsandstories.org. Archived from the original on 3 October 2022. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  4. ^ Stephen Moss (31 January 2005). "Enough!". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  5. ^ "About Us".
  6. ^ Wiener Philharmoniker (1 January 2024). "The New Year's Concert 2025 will be conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti". Wiener Philharmoniker. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  7. ^ "Muti : Bring music to prisons" Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine La Stampa, 5 August 2010 (in Italian).
  8. ^ "Biography".
  9. ^ Bernard Holland (15 February 2005). "Muti Returns to Philadelphia for a Reunion". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  10. ^ Ed Vulliamy (24 December 2000). "How America dropped the baton". The Observer. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  11. ^ Daniel J. Wakin (25 April 2007). "Philharmonic to Add a Position at the Top". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  12. ^ a b "Riccardo Muti to remain CSO music director until 2021–22" (Press release). Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 30 January 2018. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b Woolfe, Zachary (17 June 2023). "For Riccardo Muti, a Grand Sort-of-Finale in Chicago". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  14. ^ "Muti talks about '20–21 season, also Cavalleria rusticana, on WDCB-FM" (Press release). Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Riccardo Muti extends contract as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra through 2023" (PDF) (Press release). Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  16. ^ Kyle MacMillan (15 February 2023). "Chicago Symphony Orchestra 2023-24 season ushers in new era". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  17. ^ Lawrence A. Johnson (23 June 2023). "Riccardo Muti honored with new CSO title". Chicago Classical Review. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  18. ^ John Hooper (16 September 2003). "Dumbing down row at La Scala". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  19. ^ Philip Willan (13 October 2003). "New aria of peace at La Scala". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  20. ^ John Hooper (3 March 2005). "Recriminations fly as crisis engulfs La Scala". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  21. ^ John Hooper (14 March 2005). "Conductor downs baton at La Scala". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  22. ^ John Hooper (17 March 2005). "Staff demand Muti exit in latest La Scala drama". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  23. ^ Vanessa Thorpe (3 April 2005). "Muti exits after a musical mutiny". The Observer. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  24. ^ Laura Smith (4 April 2005). "Curtain falls on unhappy Muti at La Scala". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  25. ^ Leandro Palestini (20 August 2009). "Riccardo Muti andrà all' Opera di Roma". La Repubblica. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  26. ^ "Muti all'Opera di Roma 'a vita'" (in Italian). Il giornale della musica. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  27. ^ a b c d Cappelli, Valerio. "Muti – 'Killing Culture is a Crime'". Corriere della Sera Italian Life. Translated by Watson, Giles. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  28. ^ Totaro, Lorenzo (1 July 2011). "Italy Passes $68 Billion in Budget Cuts to Stop Contagion". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  29. ^ "Va, pensiero" on YouTube Theatro dell'Opera, Rome, Saturday 12 March 2011.
  30. ^ a b "Muti dirige il Nabucco Presenti Napolitano e Berlusconi" [Muti conducts Nabucco with Napolitano and Berlusconi present]. Quotidiano Nazionale (in Italian). 18 March 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  31. ^ Spataro, Marilena (9 June 2011). "Muti Mazzavillani, la signora del Ravenna Festival: "Così ho fatto crescere la città"" [Muti Mazzavillani, lady of the Ravenna Festival: 'That's how I made the city grow']. Il Fatto Quotidiano Emilia Romagna (in Italian). Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  32. ^ "Chiara Muti Swans in Fendi for La Scala's Swan Lake". Opera Chic. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  33. ^ von Rhein, John (27 July 2011). "Muti book a compelling saga of a rich life lived in music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  34. ^ Riccardo Muti's List of Honors from Italy's Presidential website.
  35. ^ "Honorary Members (Hon RAM)" (PDF). Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  36. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  37. ^ List of Knighthoods awarded 1997–2006 Archived 1 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, UK Parliament website.
  38. ^ "Riccardo Muti". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  39. ^ "Cérémonie de décoration de Riccardo Muti" [Investiture ceremony of Riccardo Muti]. Carla Bruni Sarkozy (in French). 4 June 2010. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012.
  40. ^ Sweeting, Adam (16 March 2011). "Riccardo Muti: a profile". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  41. ^ von Rhein, John (11 May 2012). "Papal honor for CSO's Riccardo Muti". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  42. ^ Bugeja, Michael (20 October 2013). "Ruben Zahra in Euro academy for peace". Times of Malta. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  43. ^ "World-Renowned Conductor to Address Class of 2014: Northwestern University News". www.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  44. ^ "Concert The Roads of Friendship Ravenna-Tokyo". Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  45. ^ Президент: Саме такі фестивалі як «Шляхи дружби» – це культурний зв'язок і свідчення повернення України до Європи. www.president.gov.ua (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  46. ^ "53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards". GRAMMY.com. 28 November 2017.
  47. ^ "The Birgit Nilsson Prize 2011 recipient". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  48. ^ "Riccardo Muti receives Praemium Imperiale Award". Gramophone. London. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
Cultural offices Preceded byClaudio Abbado Music Director, Teatro alla Scala 1986–2005 Succeeded byDaniel Barenboim