Riccardo Chailly

Italian orchestra conductor, (Milan, 1953 - )

Riccardo Chailly is without a doubt the most European of the Italian conductors. If his fame was built on the great symphonic and lyrical repertoire, he always tried to conduct the music of his time and never neglected the Italian composers. The cornerstone of his talent is this fusion between tradition and modernity.

Riccardo Chailly grew up in a family of musicians. He did his musical studies at the Milan Conservatoire, in Perugia and at the Academia Chigiana in Sienna and also received from his father, the composer Luciano Chailly, composition lessons. When he was twenty, he became Claudio Abbado's assistant at the Scala Theatre in Milan. In 1982, he was appointed as the main conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and from the following year, started to regularly conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He made a shy debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam in 1985 but became its permanent conductor in 1988. He was the first non-Dutch conductor to hold that office. There, he would acquire a huge fame by directing the great German post-romantic repertoire, with especially the pieces of Mahler and Bruckner. But he also opened the orchestra to the repertoire of the 20th century: Varèse, Hindemith, Chostakovitch, Zemlinsky. In parallel to his office, he conducted the Teatro Musicale of Bologna from 1986 to 1933, then the Symphony Orchestra of Milan Giuseppe Verdi from 1999 to 2005. He left the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2004 (of which he was appointed honorary conductor the previous year). Since 2005, he is in Leipzig the music director of both the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the opera house.

During his career, Riccardo Chailly conducted the greatest orchestras of the world: Philharmonic of Berlin and Vienne, the Symphonic Orchestras of London, Cleveland, Chicago and entered the most prestigious stages : Vienna Opera State, New York Metropolitan Opera, the Covent Garden in London. He is the producer of an abundant symphonic and lyrical discography with label Decca.

Six landmark dates in the life of Riccardo Chailly
 • 1968: first concerts in Padua, upon an invitation from Claudio Scimone
 • 1978: first performance at the Scala Theatre in Milan
 • 1985: first concert in Amsterdam in front of an empty room
 • 1988: permanent conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam
 • 1993: recordings of the Jazz suites of Shostakovich, it would be a huge commercial success
 • 2005: music director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig

Radio France documentation biography