Riccardo Chailly, who was born in 1953 in Milan, studied at the Conservatories of Perugia, Rome, and Milan and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, beginning his career as an assistant to Claudio Abbado at La Scala in Milan. Chailly was appointed Music Director of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1980, and in 1988 he moved to the same position with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, which he helmed for sixteen years. From 2005 to 2016, Riccardo Chailly served as head of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; starting in 2015, he became Music Director of La Scala in Milan, and since the summer of 2016 he has held the position of Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Chailly regularly conducts such leading European orchestras as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre de Paris. In the United States, he has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As an opera conductor – in addition to his performances at La Scala – he has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, Zurich Opera, the Bavarian and Vienna Staatsoper companies, Chicago Lyric Opera, and San Francisco Opera. Riccardo Chailly has received many prizes for his more than 150 CDs, including two Echo Klassik Awards (in 2012 and 2015); Gramophone magazine chose his account of the Brahms symphonies as Recording of the Year in 2014. Riccardo Chailly is a Grand’Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana, Cavaliere di Gran Croce, and a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 1996 he was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and in France he has been an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres since 2011.
Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra
n 2015, it was announced that Riccardo Chailly would become music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, succeeding Claudio Abbado, who had died the previous year and had very much created the hand-picked ensemble in his own musical image, conducting it every summer for the last decade of his life. Chailly took up his post in 2016, with Mahler’s majestic Eighth Symphony, not only in tribute to Abbado, whose assistant he had been at La Scala, Milan in the 1970s, but also to round off the cycle of Mahler symphonies that his predecessor had been assembling with the orchestra, year by year. Last summer, though, he began to put his own stamp on the LFO’s activities, taking its repertoire in distinctly different directions with concerts of Strauss and Stravinsky, and of the two composers he conducts on this DVD, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.
The idea for a unique festival orchestra of international standing in Lucerne goes back to Arturo Toscanini, who in 1938 convened acclaimed virtuosos of the time into an elite ensemble with the legendary “Concert de Gala.” It was 65 years later that the conductor Claudio Abbado and Festival Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger established a connection to this moment of the Festival’s birth and founded the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which made its public debut in August 2003. With Riccardo Chailly, this unique orchestra once again has an Italian music director. The idea of friendship and freedom forms the leitmotiv for this ensemble, whose ideal is a chamber music-like spirit of cooperation. Many stars of the classical music scene have played in the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA over the years: members of the Alban Berg, Hagen, and Leipzig String Quartets; the violinist Kolja Blacher; the violists Wolfram Christ and Antoine Tamestit; the cellists Jens Peter Maintz, Natalia Gutman, and Julian Steckel; the flutists Jacques Zoon and Emmanuel Pahud; the clarinetists Sabine Meyer and Alessandro Carbonare; the oboists Lucas Macías Navarro and Albrecht Mayer; the horn players Alessio Allegrini and Ivo Gass; the trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich; the trombonist Jörgen van Rijen; the timpanist Raymond Curfs; and the list goes on and on … and every summer still more new names come along.