Just in: Hilary Hahn is Muti’s artist in residence

Just in: Hilary Hahn is Muti’s artist in residence


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2021

Made in heaven?

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) is delighted to announce the appointment of three-time Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn as its inaugural Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Artist-in-Residence. Melding expressive musicality and technical expertise with artistic and intellectual curiosity, Hahn is one of the foremost violinists of our time. Her commitment to educational causes, honest and direct social media presence, and prolific commissioning of contemporary works seek to expand both the audience and repertoire for classical music. Appointed by CSO Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti, she will begin her two-year tenure on September 1, 2021, and will continue in the role through June 30, 2023.



  • Gustavo says:


  • Couperin says:


  • henry williams says:

    great player

  • Marfisa says:

    Let’s hope she can get Muti to join in!


  • BP says:

    Does Muti have authority to make decisions for the 2022-2023 season ?

    • Burnham says:

      Yes. He has authority over everything. Alexander is purely a rubber stamper.

      Some SD comments have said Muti is on until 2024. Sad.

        • Chicagorat says:


          Honestly, his Verdi of the last 10 years sounds almost like a Handel oratorio. And Verdi is his “best play”.

          Z. Woolfe at the NYT has captured this problem vividly. Writing of his Aida in Salzburg:

          ” The drama becomes purely about sound, not about the characters onstage. The surges of strings during Aida’s duet with her father, Amonasro (the sturdy baritone Luca Salsi), didn’t seem like their heartbeat; they were just strings played with relentless gorgeousness, something to admire rather than feel.

          This was about the least intimate “Aida” possible, with even passing moments — loud or soft, fast or slow — examined, polished, held up for display. All that emphasis grew wearying, even deadening, and the climactic judgment scene was slowed to the point of trudging.”

          He wrote more on his Aida in Chicago:

          “And yet, like Mr. Muti’s performance of the opera at the Salzburg Festival two years ago — with the Vienna Philharmonic an even more extravagantly virtuosic and sensual partner — it was often cool to the touch. It was a practically flawless reading of the score, but it was never moving. The drama barely crackled. Even the most forceful moments felt rounded off, smoothed out, ultimately muted.”

          “Those [articulation] details were observed fastidiously by everyone onstage, including the bass Ildar Abdrazakov (as the chief priest Ramfis), the bass-baritone Eric Owens (the King) and the baritone Kiril Manolov (Amonasro). But there was not real vocal richness or personality among that trio of deep male voices; they struggled to match the orchestra for color and resonance. There was, moreover, a chilled feeling, as if everyone were so intent on executing Mr. Muti’s exacting vision to the split second that spontaneity had been banned.”

          Here is an intelligent writer, telling the truth of what he observes. Not by chance, he is on Muti’s “very bad list”.

          This Aida in Verona is just more of the same, only with inferior acoustics.

          Luckily, Muti is not forever. Remember, Verdi is his best work, and even that will hardly be remembered.

          • ChiTown Fan says:

            I am sure anything Muti has done OR will do will be terrible. I have been attending CSO on concerts since 1970 and aside of a number of great Solti and even more Reiner concerts, the CSO has had more moving, precise and memorable concerts than any time in its history. The musicians love having him in Chicago and even the 40 year veterans in the orchestra are paying attention and on the edge of their seat to play. The days of the older members sitting there “phoning it in” are gone. I can a person be such a hater. I feel sorry for you.

          • Gustavo says:

            Last Saturday in Verona, many nuances of Aida were worked out in a way that I had never heard before.

            People of northern “temperate” climates (including myself) sometimes have difficulties getting much out of Verdi because they have too high emotional expectations (due to the excessive consumption of Wagner and Strauss).

            But now I am beginning to understand the difference and quite like that slightly restrained, more humble note from Verdi played under Muti.

        • New Yorker says:

          I never could stand Muti’s military bandmaster right arm gestures, on display here. So unappealing.

  • DG says:

    Looking at the picture in the article (from Hahn’s very entertaining appearance with TwoSet Violin) – could the TwoSet guys *please* do a video with Riccardo Muti?

  • Al Muller says:

    Hilary – As a role model, and for all of your dedication, hard work, leadership, and positive impact you will have on generations to come, you deserve whatever reward God wants you to have.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    Hooray! I might finally get to see her live!

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Any match where Muti is involved as at least half hell.