Riccardo Muti (born in Naples 28 July 1941) is an Italian conductor. He holds two music directorships: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini. Previously he 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. Muti has been a prolific recording artist and has received dozens of honors, titles, awards and prizes. He is particularly associated with the music of Giuseppe Verdi.
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 was a doctor in Molfetta and an amateur singer; his mother, a Neapolitan, was a professional singer.
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.
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.
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 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”.
In July 2015, Riccardo Muti’s desire to devote even more to the training of young musicians was realized: 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 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.