Born: Jul 28, 1941 in Naples, Italy
Genre: Symphony, Orchestral Music, Opera
One of the best-known conductors of recent times, Riccardo Muti is revered for charismatic, brilliant renderings of both concert and operatic repertoire. His father was a physician with a natural vocal talent who supported Riccardo's interest in music by giving him his initial piano and voice lessons. Muti then undertook formal musical studies at the Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella in Naples, where he earned a diploma in piano; his teachers there included Nino Rota, the well-known composer of film and concert music. Muti's education continued with studies in composition and conduction at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, and a conducting seminar with Franco Ferrara in Venice.
Muti first came to widespread public attention as the winner of the prestigious Guido Cantelli Conducting Prize in 1967. Soon after that, he made his official debut, conducting the Italian Radio and Television Orchestra. He quickly became a sought-after guest conductor, and his successes in that capacity led to his first full-time appointment in 1970, as principal conductor of the Maggio Musicale of Florence.
All the while, Muti maintained a busy schedule of high-profile engagements, including annual appearances at the Salzburg Festival (beginning in 1971), and with the Berlin Philharmonic (1972). That year, he became principal conductor of the London Philharmonic (succeeding Otto Klemperer) and made his first appearance in the United States with the Philadelphia Orchestra. With the retirement of Eugene Ormandy in 1980, Muti becamee the Philadelphia Orchestra's music director. That proved to be the most illustrious and fruitful of Muti's professional associations, extending beyond his resignation in 1990 to a post as laureate conductor. Some have observed that Muti pushed the fabled "Philadelphia sound" toward increased brightness and incisiveness while preserving the ensemble's singular luster.
Before taking the helm of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti continued his journey toward international stardom in posts with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Vienna State Opera. During his tenure in Philadelphia, In 1986 Muti also assumed the music directorship of La Scala, eventually becoming one of the few conductors to succeed equally in operatic and concert realms. His 1974 recordign of Aida with Placido Domingo and Montserrat Caballe is a classic of the operatic genre. Muti has proven himself particularly versatile in operatic repertoire, excelling in interpretations of Mozart, the Italian Romantics, Wagner, and the masterpieces of the twentieth century. Of a 2003 live CD release of a La Scala production of Tosca that Muti conducted, Opera News noted that the maestro "keeps things moving along with his usual admirable fidelity."
All Music Guide