The Corner

Culture

Tutti per Muti

Riccardo Muti, the venerable conductor, has rolled into New York to lead his Chicago Symphony Orchestra in two concerts at Carnegie Hall. I seized the chance to do a podcast with him — a Q&A, here. When I arrived at his suite, he was frustrated because he was not getting reception on his cellphone. (An antique job, not a smartphone.) And the landline in the suite was too difficult to use, with its codes and so on.

“I can read twelve lines of counterpoint,” said Muti, “but I can’t use a phone like that.”

In our podcast, we cover the waterfront, or a fair stretch of it: Muti’s life; the nature of music; our society today. He has a lot to impart, this man. One of his mentors was Nino Rota, whom most of us Americans know as the composer of the Godfather music. At the end, Muti pays tribute to Mozart, his lifelong companion, and that of millions.

Muti is famous for, among other things, a glorious head of hair (which is no disadvantage to a conductor). We talk about this for a bit. Muti uses the phrase “la forza del destino.” It’s a matter of destiny. In acknowledgement of this remark, I end the podcast with Muti conducting the overture to La forza del destino, Verdi’s opera.

A leisurely and enjoyable hour, I think you’ll find. Again, here.

By the way, I should explain the heading of this blogpost. When Muti took over the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1980, the orchestra dressed in T-shirts that said “Tutti per Muti,” or “Everyone for Muti.” The photo went ’round the world. I’ve never forgotten it, as you can see.

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