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Music Director Riccardo Muti opens his 13th year with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program that included the U.S. Premiere of Coleridge-Taylor’s “Solemn Prelude” and works by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

If you needed to be reminded of the glorious sound Maestro Riccardo Muti has nurtured during his 13-year tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Thursday evening’s concert, marking the start of the 2022-23 season, served as a perfect example.

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Maestro Riccardo Muti rehearses with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

This weekend marks the beginning of the end of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. WTTW News visited Symphony Center to hear him lead the orchestra in a rousing rehearsal of works by Tchaikovsky.

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A capacity crowd of 12,000 packs Millennium Park on a beautiful summer evening in the city to enjoy a free Concert for Chicago featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Riccardo Muti performing music by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. The performance marked the first return to Millennium Park for Muti and the CSO since 2018.  (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

An audience of 12,000 people poured into Millennium Park Monday evening to hear maestro Riccardo Muti lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a thrilling performance of works by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky on the Pritzker Pavilion stage.

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(Credit Todd Rosenberg)

Thursday evening’s bravura production was a major event in Muti’s penultimate season as the CSO’s music director. And it was a grand homage to both the composer whose work he has long cherished, and the orchestra he has embraced and nurtured since becoming its music director in 2010.

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Composer Missy Mazzoli acknowledges the audience following a performance of the world premiere of CSO Commission “Orpheus Undone.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti and the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featured three very different and extremely challenging works Thursday night that, as always, showcased the brilliance of both the composers and their interpreters.

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Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s “Symphony No.9” on Feb. 24, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The CSO's bravura rendering of this masterwork was, indeed, a temporary balm for the soul and evidence of how great works of art speak to us throughout time.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti and soloist Mitsuko Uchida acknowledge the audience following a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Feb. 17, 2022. (Credit : Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The pairing began with Beethoven’s demonically difficult 1806 “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major,” with Mitsuko Uchida as the incomparable soloist. And it was followed by Philip Glass’ “Symphony No. 11,” which had its world premiere in 2017, and now received a volcanic rendering by a monumental gathering of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen, Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong, Assistant Concertmaster David Taylor, and Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu in Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for Four Violins and Cello. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra traveled back in time with a program of works by early 18th century Baroque masters Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel. 

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program on January 13, 2022. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti was in stellar form during Thursday night’s concert in Orchestra Hall. He clearly is in love with the indomitable musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and they return that passion with a magnificent combination of sound and fury and absolute beauty.

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Jessie Montgomery, the CSO’s Mead Composer-in-Residence. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

On the heels of the recent triumphant return to live concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has announced its extensive programming plans for the remainder of the 2021 season and the first half of the 2022 season.

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Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) as part of Muti’s final program in his fall 2021 residency. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the third program of his fall residency with an intriguing juxtaposition of three works: Missy Mazzoli’s 2006 “These Worlds in Us”; Russian composer Anatoly Liadov’s 1908 tone poem, “The Enchanted Lake”; and finally, Tchaikovsky’s indisputable 1893 masterpiece, “Symphony No. 6 in B Minor (Pathetique).”

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Violinist Leonidas Kavakos acknowledges the audience following his performance with Riccardo Muti and the CSO, September 30, 2021. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Leonidas Kavakos — the Greek-born violinist who thrilled audiences with his performance of Beethoven’s 1806 “Violin Concerto in D Major” two years ago — returned to the stage with a galvanic rendering of Brahms’ 1878 “Violin Concerto in D Major,” leaving the packed house in a state of contained awe between movements.

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Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony in their first concert together since February 2020 to open the CSO’s 131st season, Sept. 23, 2021. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

It was a great spirit-raising moment of rebirth, celebration and pure musical enchantment Thursday night as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra along with an ebullient Maestro Riccardo Muti and a large, exuberant audience were all reunited in Orchestra Hall for the first time in 19 months. 

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In this Jan. 1, 2018 file photo, Italian Maestro Riccardo Muti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during the traditional New Year’s concert at the golden hall of Vienna’s Musikverein, Austria. (AP Photo / Ronald Zak File)

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced he has extended his contract as music director by one year through the 2022-23 season. The 80-year-old Italian became music director of the CSO in 2010, succeeding Daniel Barenboim.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9, 2019 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

In addition to the series of Maestro Riccardo Muti’s concerts, the fall season will mark the arrival of violinist Hilary Hahn, visits by many guest conductors and artists, plus a vast and varied lineup under the Symphony Center Presents banner. Here’s what else to expect.

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Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti on the podium during the CSO’s May 9, 2019 program of works by Mozart and Stravinsky. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Beginning in September, Maestro Riccardo Muti will lead the orchestra he has not seen since February 2020 in a three-week residency marking the official opening of the 2021-22 season in Orchestra Hall and the return of (hopefully full) live audiences.