Muti Is New CSO Director

Newspapers reported Riccardo Muti as new CSO music director in a five yr. contract. I make the assumption tht they’ll be plenty of coverage on internet sites and message boards, etc. Personally, I’m bored stiff by accounts of musical politics, and am largely ignorant of the topic.

As for Muti as conductor? Well, his tenures at Philly and La Scala seem like a mixed bag to me. I’m hesitant to predict what’ll happen here, because when Barenboim began in Chicago, I thought his conducting was deeply problematical, and he evolved into a magnificent conductor right before my ears. Rumors of Muti not getting along with players? We heard this about Barenboim, as well. The conductor should be boss. He should tell the players what to do, and they darn well better try to do it. That’s the way it works…otherwise, you have chaos or mediocrity. There has been a prima donna syndrome affecting certain CSO players over the years, in my view…one of the CSO players once complained to me that Barenboim fired a player for making a wrong note, and was indignant about it. I say, right on! Look at the price on your ticket…a conductor is responsible to music, firstly, and to the patrons, secondly, just as a CEO is responsible to the shareholders, firstly, and anyone else secondly. Anything else is sentimentality.

Believe me, I want the CSO to be the greatest orchestra in the world, I live in Chicago. But I think the CSO needs to work to that goal, not just rely on its well-deserved high reputation. Look at the music, not in a mirror.