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Elder statesman replaces Muti on Asia tour

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra spent a frantic day and night finding a maestro to stand in for the unwell Riccardo Muti on the Asia tour.. It had to be a big name, who was free at short notice and acceptable to the local promoters.

The substitute is Lorin Maazel, formerly of New York, now with the Munich Philharmonic. Maazel will be 83 in March.

Here’s the press release:

January 17, 2013




Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO


CHICAGO—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) announced today that Music Director Riccardo Muti is unable to participate in the Orchestra’s upcoming tour to Asia.

Substituting for Maestro Muti on this tour is Lorin Maazel (music director, Munich Philharmonic) for the concerts in Hong Kong, China and Korea. The CSO is working closely with the presenter in Taiwan and expects to announce plans for the concerts in Taipei within 24 hours.

After returning to Italy last week suffering from the flu, Maestro Muti sought further medical care. He was subsequently diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, which requires surgical treatment as soon as possible. His doctors determined that to delay the surgery until after the scheduled tour to Asia could lead to complications.

CSOA President Deborah F. Rutter commented, “The thoughts and good wishes of the entire CSO family are with our beloved Maestro Muti as he undergoes surgery. Naturally, we are disappointed that he was not able to lead the Orchestra here in Chicago and will be unable to join us on our tour beginning next week. However, we completely understand that this is a health situation beyond his control and eagerly await his return to Chicago in April. The CSO family is deeply grateful to Maestro Maazel for assisting the CSO on this tour.”

In a written statement from Italy, Maestro Muti said, “I feel very sad, frustrated and upset to leave my wonderful musicians and audiences in Chicago and on this very important tour that I was expecting with great anticipation. I look forward to returning to Chicago in April when we can once again make beautiful music together.”

Repertoire for this tour includes two programs: Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony—which replaces originally scheduled music by Stravinsky and Busoni—and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 on one program and Verdi’s Overture to I vespri siciliani, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 (Italian) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) on the other.

American conductor Lorin Maazel’s association with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra dates back to his debut concerts with them 40 years ago, in February 1973. In the decades since, he has led the Orchestra in a wide range of repertoire from Brahms, Berlioz and Schumann to Mahler, Strauss and Bartok, as well as works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Sibelius. In 2000, Maazel and the CSO gave the American premiere of his own composition, Farewells, as part of his 70th birthday celebrations, and his programs with the CSO have featured works by living American composers including Aaron Jay Kernis and Augusta Read Thomas.

There are no changes to the tour performance schedule, which includes two concerts in Taipei, Taiwan at the Chiang Kai-Shek National Concert Hall; two concerts in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival; one concert each in Shanghai (Oriental Art Centre), Beijing (National Center for the Performing Arts) and Tianjin (Tianjin Grand Theater) in China; and two in Seoul, South Korea at the Seoul Arts Center to conclude the tour.

Bank of America is the Global Sponsor of the CSO.

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  1. As sad as it is to see Muti, obe of my favorite (favourite, for you Brits) conductors, but how wonderful that Lorin Maazel should “deputize” (deputise?) for Muti in a pinch. I am in awe of Maazel, really the greatest baton technician of all time–and allied with the hottest passion for music that it at first appears cold. But it is really intense fire. Bravo, Maazel!

  2. Pity they dropped the Busoni. The programs they left are a big, big yawn. Does it get any more tired than this? One would think that orchestra and conductor as experienced as these could cobble together something of a bit more interest, even on such short notice.

  3. Roderick Branch says:

    Dave T: The only changes to the originally scheduled program were to substitute the Mozart (which the orchestra performed in Chicago this week) for the Stravinsky and Busoni. The remainder of the repertory for which the organization and their presenters already sold thousands of tickets across East Asia remains the same. You may still consider that collection of some of the greatest music to be written during the last 300 years “a yawn,” but rest assured the change on the podium was only marginal to the end result as far as the program is concerned.

  4. These maestros are amazing. 83 and still going strong. Good on yer, Lorin!

  5. The Chicago Symphony cares, but neither Mitsuko Uchida or the presenter you mentioned care that she is being replaced by pianist at both a diminished capacity and stature in Menahem Pressler. Seems that orchestras are more careful about the abilities and stature of the replacements than the soloists and presenters. And surely, there are plenty of pianists with greater abilities and stature that would play a piano recital on two weeks notice for Uchida’s presumed healthy fee.

  6. Nicholas D says:

    Maazel – again?? I seem to have lost count of the times he has conducted in Hong Kong since the late 1970s. I don’t know who suggested the CSO “had” to have a big name replacement, but the orchestra itself is big enough. A pairing with a younger, fresher more exciting conductor than Maazel would have been far more exciting.

  7. Brian Hughes says:

    I must ask why one of the preeminent American orchestras cannot tour with a single piece of American music?

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