Just in: Muti joins the Chicago picket line

Just in: Muti joins the Chicago picket line


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2019

From the Chicago Federation of Musicians:

Maestro Muti will join the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including a brass section that will perform, and others in solidarity at the Picket Line for a press conference — Tuesday, 10am at Symphony Center, Outside, at 220 South Michigan Avenue.

It is, we think, unprecedented for a US music director to go on strike with the musicians.

UPDATE: We understand that Mstislav Rostropovich went on the picket line with the National Symphony Orchestra in 1993 after some musicians were accused of violating the police perimeter.  He stayed for half an hour and the strike continued for six weeks.

UPDATE2: Muti clarifies


  • Jon H says:

    I think Rostropovich joined the NSO musicians on the picket line in 1978.

  • william osborne says:

    It too think this is unprecedented. Remarkable!

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Wow, just wow. Pictures please, film at 11. I don’t believe there were any work stoppages of long duration during his tenure (1980 through the early 90s) in Philadelphia. (Correction welcome)The main reason he left POA was because of the need for a new, acoustically viable hall. He didn’t get his way and he walked. The CSO Board and administration are playing with fire.

    • Barry says:

      Only if you think they couldn’t do better.

      • NYMike says:

        Whether you like him musically or not, doing better is a stretch considering his reputation.

        • Barry says:

          I have mixed feelings on Muti, who was the conductor for most of my earliest classical concert experiences (in Philadelphia). Nobody gets what he wants from an orchestra in terms of sound and precision better than Muti. Yet I have heard too many performances of familiar pieces led by him that were as dull as could be. It was like he was trying to suck the life out of the music to prove he wouldn’t do anything vulgar. At least that was my impression. If I were a CSO concertgoer, I’d rather have Honneck, who I’ve felt for some time could wind up eventually replacing Muti. If people here are right that Muti would walk over this, maybe the change will happen sooner than anticipated.
          When I hear a finale of Brahms 2nd symphony that is as boring as the last one I heard Muti lead (in Chicago), I tend not to dwell on his reputation.

          • Steve says:

            Honeck is literally the most boring conductor that I have ever heard conduct in Chicago…he would be a horrible replacement

          • Barry says:

            When it comes to the standard concert repertoire, I can’t think of anyone I prefer to Honeck among today’s active conductors. It’s not a coincidence that almost every recording he makes gets raved to death by reviewers.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Very good of him

  • Edgar says:

    Are CSO management and board now going to fire Muti? They better come up with a convincing compromise. Otherwise, they will lose their Music Director, and Chicago will be the place many conductors would want to avoid until the conflict is settled.

  • Bruce says:

    Good for him. More music directors should publicly take sides, because they too have a stake in the outcome.

  • fflambeau says:

    Osmo Antero Vänskä, conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, took a very pro strike position with his musicians: “I felt that it was my orchestra, and I had to take care of it, whatever happens,” he recalled in a telephone interview. “I just felt the players were handled very unfairly.” I believe he even resigned (only to come back later).