A recent hostile book review about Chicago has prompted an unexpected riposte from its music director. Muti’s letter has just gone up on the Times website. Given that he turned down an approach from the New York Philharmonic a decade ago, his polite response packs an added punch. Bravo, Riccardo!
The New York Times (Sunday Book Review, May 12, 2013): online May 9, 2013
Letters to the Editor
Rachel Shteir’s review of “The Third Coast,” “Golden” and “You Were Never in Chicago” (April 21) elicited the ire of many in the Windy City, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Book Review received more than 100 letters about Shteir’s essay. A selection of them follows:
To the Editor:
As someone who has chosen Chicago as an adopted city, I read Rachel Shteir’s review of a number of books about Chicago with great interest. I strongly disagree with the negative portrayal of a city I have come to love. As a European, I can confirm the deep respect that Chicago has throughout Europe as one of the great symbols of the United States.
Chicago is a beautiful city with many resources, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the best orchestras anywhere in the world.
Chicago’s greatest resource is its wonderful people, who do not see music merely as an entertainment but also as cultural enrichment. This is a city rich in neighborhoods with great diversity that have been nothing but incredibly responsive to our attempts to bring music to those who may not or cannot come to us in the concert hall, whether because of cost or other barriers.
In each case, these efforts to share our music widely have been received with tremendous openness and affection, an outpouring of feelings from the heart that is as profound as any I have experienced conducting the great orchestras of the world across many cities and countries. Chicagoans are proud of their city, as we all should be.
The writer is the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.