Thursday, April 16, 2020

CSO Boasts About Its Music Director's Disinterest in 20th c. and Contemporary Music

Speaking of messages from orchestras, the Chicago Symphony's latest promotional email includes this gem:

(Text in screenshot reads: Riccardo Muti, Champion of Italian Repertoire. View: One of the great benefits of having an Italian music director is that he is no more than one or two degrees of separation from great Italian composers himself. A living disciple of Arturo Toscanini through his own teacher, Antonino Votto, Riccardo Muti has conducted the CSO in many symphonic and operatic works by Italian composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including Cherubini, Rossini, Verdi, Boito, Catalani, Martucci, Puccini, Mascagni, Giordano, Respighi and others.)

Wow, what a list: while Mascagni and Giordano lived into the 1940s, that's about as conservative list of Italian composers as I can think of. They're all popular opera composers, and sure, Muti is great in that repertory (although amazingly rigid about 19th c. practices such as ornamentation), but it's as though his aesthetic interest barely exists past about 1924.

What about Nono, Dallapiccola, Berio, Scelsi, Donatoni, Sciarrino, Scodanibbio, and many others?? Well - the CSO has had some of the most boring and conservative programming of any major US orchestra over the last few years, so....

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