July 28, 1941 - Naples (Italy)
Riccardo Muti was born in Naples where he studied piano at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella under Vincenzo Vitale, graduating with distinction. He was subsequently awarded a diploma in Composition and Conducting by the Conservatory “Giuseppe Verdi,” Milan, where he studied under the guidance of Bruno Bettinelli and Antonino Votto.
He first came to the attention of critics and public in 1967, when he was unanimously awarded first place by the prestigious jury of 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 in 2001 to a celebration of thirty years of artistic collaboration with this glorious festival. In January 2006, he was appointed artistic director of Salzburg’s Pentecost Festival. During the 1970s, he was the London Philharmonic’s chief conductor (1972 to 1982) succeeding Otto Klemperer. From 1980 to 1992, he inherited the position of Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from Eugene Ormandy.
From 1986 to 2005, he was Music Director of the Teatro alla Scala and under his direction important projects were undertaken such as the Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy and the Wagner Ring Cycle. Alongside the classics of the repertoire, he brought many less performed and neglected works to light. These include exquisite pieces from the eighteenth century Neapolitan school as well as operas by Gluck, Cherubini, Spontini and most recently by Poulenc, composer of “Les dialogues des Carmélites.” This latter production earned Muti the prestigious “Abbiati” prize from the critics. The long period spent as musical director of the La Scala organization culminated on December 7, 2004, in the triumphal re-opening of the restored La Scala with Antonio Salieri’s “Europa riconosciuta,” originally commissioned for La Scala’s inaugural opening night 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 Bayerischer Rundfunk, the New York Philharmonic to the Orchestre National de France, as well as, naturally, the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra to which he is linked by particularly close and important ties, and with which he has appeared at the Salzburg Festival since 1971.
He was appointed Music Director of the Chicago Sympony Orchestra and will succeed to Daniel Barenboim. He took up the post in the autumn of 2010.