Riccardo Muti: Chicago has displaced Vienna in my heart

Talking to Andrew Patner, the maestro says Italy will always be his first home. Vienna, for the past 44 years, was the second. But now he feels so comfortable in Chicago that he considers it his second home. ‘I have almost the impression I have been born here,’ he says. ‘The people are very much like the people in the south of Italy. They can laugh, they can smile…’

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  • I can believe that Vienna was Muti’s second home. In 1979 my wife, Abbie Conant, won the audition for the Maggio Musicale. Muti wouldn’t allow the orchestra to hire her because he said there were already too many women in the orchestra.

    Things have progressed in some countries. In the trombone section of the Hallé Orchestra based in Manchester, women out number men 2 to 1. And women form a majority of the orchestra’s personnel. Hopefully the Maestro Grande has caught up with the times – even if the m/f ratio in the Chicago Symphony brass section is 12 to 1.

    Some other ratios for brass sections:

    NY Phil – 13 to 2 (two women players were recently “dismissed, fired, or let go, under questionable circumstances, however it’s rationalized.)

    Boston Symphony – 13 to 1.

    Cleveland Orchestra – 17 to 0 (they list cornets and euphonium as well)

    Philadelphia Orchestra – 11 to 3 (the solo horn and tubist are women)

    Los Angeles Philharmonic – all musicians listed on a separate alphabetic page thus conveniently making a count difficult but the ratios are similar to the above.

    • “I can believe that Vienna was Muti’s second home. In 1979 my wife, Abbie Conant, won the audition for the Maggio Musicale. Muti wouldn’t allow the orchestra to hire her because he said there were already too many women in the orchestra.”

      This information explains a lot of things…

  • What “alphabetic page”? At laphil.com website, under philpedia, the orchestra roster is very clearly listed by instrument. There are several vacancies, but currently no women in the brass sections. On the other hand, there are twice as many women as men in the woodwinds, including the all-female oboe section. So, go ahead, call the sexism police who will make some of the oboists play trombones and vice versa – it would sound like shit but it may make william osborne a little happier which should be the main purpose of every orchestra in the world!

  • Thanks for the tip. LA Phil Brass – 13 to 0. Bravo! A perfect score for anonymous misogynists like M2N2K, and further proof there’s nothing sexist at all in the orchestral world…

    Here is an expanded list for 8 top US orchestras:

    Chicago Symphony – 12 to 1.
    NY Phil – 13 to 2
    Boston Symphony – 13 to 1.
    Cleveland Orchestra – 17 to 0 (they list cornets and euphonium as well)
    Philadelphia Orchestra – 11 to 3
    Los Angeles Philharmonic – 13 to 0
    San Francisco 11 to 3
    Minnesota Orchestra 11 to 1

    Total = 108 to 11 which is 10.1%.
    The over-all ratio for women trumpeters and trombonists is 0%. They don’t exist in these top 8 US orchestras. The gender coding of instruments is one of the worst problems with sexism in classical music.

    • You are welcome. A commenter’s signature, whether it looks real or fictional, does not change the persuasiveness of one’s arguments, paucity of which is often being revealed when one resorts to throwing insulting labels in the direction of one’s interlocutors. There is nothing more indicative and supportive of misogynist attitudes than confusing inequality of the results which is a natural human condition with the inequality of opportunities which is a real problem that needs to be solved.

  • I’m more interested in Maestro Muti’s very enterprising and interesting work in young people’s prisons. It reveals an unexpected, untapped source of the enjoyment and rewards to be had from classical music, which also exists in the outside world but is unexploited for cheap and easy commercial reasons.

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