Riccardo Muti to stay on with Chicago Symphony Orchestra through to 2020

Italian maestro Riccardo Muti will remain the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director through to August, 2020 after signing an extension to his contract earlier this week. Originally Muti had signed a contract securing his position from 2010-15 but at a press conference on Monday announcing the CSO’s 2014-15 season, Muti revealed he will now make his tenancy stretch to the end of the decade.

The 72-year-old maestro spoke to those in attendance for over an hour without notes. It is obvious that the charismatic conductor enjoys not just only the music, but also the sharing of his and the CSO’s plans for the years ahead.

When asked why he had renewed his contract for another five years he said “Because of my love for the musicians. They’ve changed me. I go to rehearsals now very relaxed and happy to work with them.” He later added that, “The orchestra is shining. We are working together in a wonderful, wonderful relationship. The orchestra has made me feel like I have a second home in Chicago.”

If Muti could have his way between now and 2020, he would record all of the Beethoven symphonies (again) as well as Brahms and Bruckner – but for the latter, he teased, he would require another contract.

Some funny moments from the press conference

Concerns of Muti's age were met with: “I will not be 80 yet. My great grandfather remarried at 76.”

To the photographer who courteously tried to avoid blocking the audience's view by kneeling on the floor in front of him he said: 
“I am not the Pope.”

On the subject of CD Covers and marketing imagery he said “Today all you see are violinist’s legs and a conductor with hair like a forest. The future seems to be legs and hair.”

And on his home country: 
“Italy is a country based on culture. If you take away the culture, what do you have? Berlusconi.”