Riccardo Muti reminds the BBC about relative values

Riccardo Muti reminds the BBC about relative values


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2023

The following statement by Riccardo Muti went viral two years ago. It now seems prophetic of the BBC’s present disaster.

The Italian conductor said in July 2021: ‘A symphony orchestra costs less than one footballer today. What legacy do we expect to leave to our children? … If this does not change, superficial and very dangerous people will prevail in future generations.’

At the BBC, the retired footballer Gary Lineker 9pictured) is paid £1.3 million a year to host Match of the Day. The BBC Singers are being abolished in order to save less than £1.5 million.

The BBC has made its priorities clear: save Lineker, scrap culture.

Some day soon, the BBC itself will not be worth saving.


  • another says:

    Ricardo Muti’s salary is 3.5 M $. How much of it is he willing to share in order to save some culture?

    • Del-boy says:

      errr…but he’ not accountable to you. If he pays his taxes, he has shared it…..

      • Another says:

        I think footballers pay their taxes as well, so they’re not accountable to Muti, are they? Glass houses and stones, dear. If he really wants the culture to survive, he should share his salary with many underpaid musicians instead of cheap talk.

    • Morgan says:

      His salary is irrelevant to the point.

    • Tar the conductor says:

      He deserves every penny of it. Talent is worth rewarding — not wokeness

      • Frank D'Souza says:

        TAR, Kindly define wokeness, so that the Bewildered amongst us can have some idea of what you are talking about.

    • Tod V. says:

      I am afraid the Maestro forgot to mention that the mirrors in his residents are all shrouded.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      A cheap shot. I would argue that its the conductor that often drives audiences into concert halls.

      • Tamino says:

        That’s a very slippery slope to justify bloated star salaries. Based on that logic, all the backstage employees should get nothing because nobody buys a ticket to see them.

      • Another says:

        So it’s not a cheap shot when he talks about football salaries, it’s only when we talk about his?

    • Stephen says:

      He’s worth it. So are top footballers. Like it or not Its market price for exceptional talent , but not ex footballers spouting stuff on TV you hear down the pub on match day

    • MMcGrath says:

      It’s the price one has to pay to be a leading orchestra of the world and attract donors and soloists. Not an unusually high salary to retain this talent. Compare Munich, St Petersburg, London, Berlin when the conductor is globally in the top ten.

      What’s your problem: Envy?

    • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

      Probably enough to enlighten another

    • MJR says:

      US football players make as much as $50 per season. Compare this to Muti measly 3.5M. Both people put butts in the seats and the football teams play one game per week for 16 weeks. Anyone who conducts a major orchestra is worth every penny. If you do not agree then you have no concept of what a conductor does. You are a sad, sad person.

    • soavemusica says:

      The British friends of classical music are robbed by the Biased Broadcasting Company, that is the issue.

      Expect a Woke Choir, and rising Executive Bonuses for great savings.

  • Harry Collier says:

    £1.3 MILLION a year to comment on football matches? I’ll do it for £50,000 a year, so there is money for choirs and orchestras.

    • Frank D'Souza says:

      Harry, Unfortunately, there is a greater demand for footballers & their commentators, than there is for musicians and conductors, even of the calibre of Muti.

  • Another Orchestral Musician says:

    “The Italian conductor said in July 2021: ‘A symphony orchestra costs less than one footballer today”

    I get that football players’ salaries are ridiculously high… but Muti makes like 20 times more money than his musicians at the CSO, so yeah… funny 😀

  • Robin Blick says:

    Sad, tragic, unforgivable decline of BBC. 40 or so years ago, it screened the Magic Flute in peak viewing time, and Young Musician of the Year, including the qualifying rounds, on BBC1 Anyone on its staff proposing a return to those days would be referred to psychiatrist.

    • Frank D'Souza says:

      Robin, If that is true, then in the absence of some thunderbolt of a suggestion, all I can do is to weep. And pray for better days ahead.

  • Darren says:

    I get the feeling this one doesnt grasp the concept of supply and demand.

    • Tamino says:

      It’s not about supply and demand only. If it was about that, NONE of the cultural institutions and buildings of the past would have been built.

  • MacroV says:

    Compared to U.S. counterparts, Lineker is absurdly underpaid, especially given what an iconic figure he is. Stephen A. Smith earns around $12 million on ESPN, Charles Barkley about the same on TNT.

    But I don’t see the point of comparing his pay to the BBC Singers’ budget; of course it’s absurd to drop them to save a measly $1.5 million.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    It shouldn’t be an either or situation.

  • Herbie G says:

    ‘Some day soon, the BBC itself will not be worth saving.’
    Not ‘some day soon’ – now.

  • CSOA Insider says:

    Someone with no values and character cannot speak of value.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    I like Mutti’s comment very much. Thanks for sharing.

  • MMcGrath says:

    Very nice juxtaposition. Thank you.

  • Bett says:

    You’re really comparing a choir to standing up to the racist government? Please be reasonable. The Rwanda plan and small boats policy will literally kill people. I’m sorry the choir has been disbanded and that the rationale is not realistic but you can’t compare these two things. Mb the BBC singers should speak out against government policy which will leave people to drown or send them to concentration camps.

    • Helen says:


      People are drowning now because they are paying people smugglers to take them in unsuitable, unregulated, small (and increasingly not-so-small) inflatable boats.

      How is discouraging this trade going to “leave people to drown”?

  • Doc Martin says:

    Muti is comparing apples and oranges. Football is big business with a huge following. Classical music has a niche market That is the problem.

    Austria & Germany subsidises it UK prefers market forces. The plebs do not attend concerts, they go to football matches instead. That is the problem.

    • Tamino says:

      All true. But hundreds of years later, nobody talks about sportsmen of the time. But people flock to museums and concert halls to marvel at the highest artistic achievements of humanity. Ever.

  • Fred Funk says:

    It’s ALL relative in West Virginia, USA.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Did Beethoven make £ 1.3 million any year?