Riccardo Muti: Covid has destroyed the certainty of spirituality

Riccardo Muti: Covid has destroyed the certainty of spirituality


norman lebrecht

February 09, 2022

The Chicago Symphony maestro has issued one of his cryptic epithets in a Zoom interview with the Financial Times:

“Covid has destroyed the economy in many countries but it has also destroyed the certainty of spirituality,” he says. “It has destroyed the confidence of one person in another.”

Discuss, if you wish.


photo: Masked-up Muti with Chicago mayor.


  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Always optimitic. If you had a bad day don’t read him.

  • Gustavo says:

    Discuss? Nothing to discuss. Because he is absolutely right.

    Don’t trust anyone anymore, not even yourself.

    • John Borstlap says:

      How was this different before?

      Trust has always been a precious and rare phenomenon, especially between humans. The pandemic merely laid bare what has always been close under the surface, on all levels of society, everywhere.

  • Player says:

    Bless him. He has been a true spiritual leader in these times. That address to the empty hall at the New Year’s Day Concert in 2021. The determination to make music, and throw off the face nappies to engage once more as human beings. He and Danny Barenboim haven’t so many years left so well done them.

    • Ricky Master says:

      uh … when you hear people hailing Muti as a spiritual leader sane individuals should have their alarm bells going off.

      His materialism and vulgarity are second to none. No thank you, not my spiritual leader.

      • Paul M. says:

        You forgot narcissism. When music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra (a position he regarded as a thorn in his side), he lived in Academy House next to the Academy of Music. A friend happened to get on the elevator with Muti and his assistant at which point he offered a compliment on the release of his latest CD. The assistant coldly chided him for the intrusion insisting “You do not address the Maestro directly. You may convey your admiration to me and I will inform him.” Muti just stared at the ceiling and never acknowledged my friend’s comment. Spiritual my ass.

      • John says:

        How very ugly, bitter and unkind.
        You should abstain from writing about your horrid feelings. Meditate and save what is left in your heart. Being kind is a lot better!

      • Nick says:

        Well, Muti is most certainly a much more of a spiritual leader than the Chicago, so called, mayor!!
        That is for sure. Levels of talent or taste and vulgarity we do not even start to discuss. Mr/s. Lightfoot is a winner!!

    • henry williams says:

      they may have many years left.
      many people live till 90′. or over

    • Sibfan says:

      “face nappies”


    • Henry williams says:

      People used to say to me how many years do you have left when
      I was 60. Iam now 80. Tony Bennet was giving shows when he was 0ver 90. Never be ashamed of a persons age.

  • A.L. says:

    This all sounds a bit overblown, no? What Muti should be focusing on and talking about is what has caused the precipitous and unprecedented decline in operatic singing and in interest in the art form, problems festering long before the existence of the noun Covid.

  • Althea T-H says:

    I am confident that Muti has made an exceedingly fat amount of money – frequently at the expense of musicians who were paid far too little, solely in order that a bountiful libation of cash be poured over him.

    He is joined in this evening robbery by a raft of greedy conductors and soloists.

    It’s time such selfish appropriation of public and private funds was called out.

    Also to go: the unnecessary carbon trail of tiresome violinists and their tedious, yawn-inducing Bruch/Mendelssohn/Brahms/Tchaikovsky concerto round.

    So much money – for so little imagination!

    Retirements all round please. Your time is up.

  • he says:

    The reporter squandered a great opportunity to ask Muti whom he thought should replace him at the helm of Chicago.

  • Those behind COVID are attempting to destroy the certainty of spirituality; they will not destroy mine.

  • Chicagorat says:

    If one is to make sense of Muti’s latest rant, one has to turn on the Muti decoder.

    Muti has only one interest, only one passion, only one preoccupation: Muti. Having searched for all his life, and never found any evidence of his own soul, he is conveniently blaming COVID. He also sees the writing on the wall in Chicago, where his concerts go half empty and the Board tolerance for his outrageous (not very) private behavior growing extremely thin.

    And, he has just been schooled – again! – by his archnemesis Lissner and the Draghi cabinet. The plot of Muti’s ally Governor De Luca to financially strangle the Teatro San Carlo, unseat Lissner and install Muti has been ridiculed by all the major Italian newspapers and nullified by Draghi’s government. If there is a man who won’t put up with Muti’s bs, it’s Draghi.



    What else is left for him except zooming out his depression?

    • steve says:

      LMAO at that “half empty” concerts statement…not sure where you’ve been all this time, but FYI, his concerts—along with the ones that feature a star soloist—are the only ones that consistently sell the most seats (if not already a full house).

      • Charles S says:

        Everyone can check for themselves. Next week (Friday 18 and Friday 19) there is a bombshell concert (haha) with Muti-Uchida and Philip Glass. Try to order a ticket on their website and you will see half of the tickets are unsold.

        I mean I did not count them, but they look half unsold to me on the seat map including main floor and lower balcony, and gallery.

        Please do not take this as a CSO commercial. I do not recommend going to their concerts, especially the Muti ones. I’ve been disappointed way too many times.

  • Jennifer Junqueuaird-Dawgue says:

    These types of viewpoints are dangerous, and it’s unfortunate Norman has to stoop to these levels of clickbait garbage.

    All the public health officials and politicians are doing their best to protect us, and for that, as well as their immense wisdom and leadership, I am thankful.

    God bless,

  • Anon says:

    Masked, but what about social distancing?

  • Maria says:

    He’s not far wrong. The world is broken because the spirit is simply broken, not just the economy. We now have an epidemic of mental illness and endless loneliness, even among our kids.
    Plastic and robotic smiles with bleached snow white fake teeth when not hidden behind a dreadful mask, just don’t cut the mustard for most genuine people.

    • Wannaplayguitar says:

      There has always been mental illness and loneliness, plague, war and famine, from pre biblical times to modern day. But I agree that these Hollywood bright white screw in teeth are an irritation. In the past you were lucky to have any teeth at all. My grandfather had most of his pulled out in WW1 trenches by an army dentist.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Interesting the meaningless rubbish that celebrity people speak and that gets repeated because of their celebrity.

  • Stuart says:

    has also destroyed the certainty of spirituality,” he says. “It has destroyed the confidence of one person in another.

    Not for me and I suspect not for many. Kind of depends on your state of mind and state of your spirituality going into the pandemic. I don’t trust people less now – there always will be many who don’t deserve our trust. I listen far less now to the media and to many officials who have agendas rather than insights. The pandemic has brought the worst out of many people but as always, there are bright spots. Not sure why we would give Muti’s comments much credence. Tough subject to write about without getting a lot of thumbs down…

  • Bonetti Micaela says:

    Sorry, no.
    Don’t want to discuss.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    He’s right. We’ve been exhorted to mistrust our fellow man for the last two years. That leaves its mark.

    • Amos says:

      Due to the fact that on a daily basis some our fellow men and women disseminate lies regarding the seriousness and solutions to combat a global pandemic.

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        Absolutely. I suppose you mean those who’ve been telling us for two years that we’re all at perpetual mortal risk, regardless of age and health.

        • Amos says:

          Save it for your induction speech into the Social Darwinist Hall of Fame.

          • Ilana Wallach says:

            Very well said! And I thought your initial, longer statement about the inherent uncertainty of faith (spirituality), among other things, was nuanced and a lot more thoughtful than on-line comments often are.

  • Amos says:

    IMO by definition, there is no such thing as the certainty of spirituality given that it is based on a belief system that can be neither proven nor disproven. The second statement, imo, is absolutely correct. Never before in the modern age have a large percentage of the population tried to deny the need to address a global health crisis using scientifically proven methods in favor of quackery, misinformation/disinformation, and denial. The fact that a significant number of people are knowingly profiting by disseminating lies is inhumane. Spare me the replies about the evil pharmaceutical industry. Whether efficacious vaccine technology should be shared at no cost is a discussion worth having but the BS that striving for universal vaccination is merely to enrich biotech is crap.

  • MacroV says:

    You can call it a destruction of spirituality, or just a new era of selfishness, that we are no longer willing to take even modest measures to protect others from ourselves.

  • John Soutter says:

    The certainty of what? Muti is plainly mad. He survives on his ego being boosted by the lackeys around him … a bit like Boris …

  • Peter says:

    Politicians have destroyed societies. They just blamed it on covid.

  • margaret koscielny says:

    He has a point. We go about, masked, wondering if the person standing behind us in line, unmasked, is contagious, vaccinated, or what? And, then, the hostility of those who refuse to get vaccinated, or wear a mask, toward those of us who are prudent and rcaring about other people’s lives. Place that against all the politicization associated with the hateful extremists, and, there is a loss to humanity: respect for the value of other human lives.

  • Michael McGrath says:

    Once you get past the awkward translation of his words, his thoughts on the impact of fear and isolation on humans are very interesting and perceptive. I sense that he’s correct. How long the induced changes will last is unclear. Bears further thought.