Muti expected to open new CSO season

Updated 2/15/2011 11:35 AM

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 121st season announced Monday has something for everyone.

Even though CSO music director Riccardo Muti was unable to attend Monday's news conference at Orchestra Hall while he recovers from facial injuries suffered in a fainting spell and fall during a recent rehearsal, the 2011-12 season will have him back in Chicago for 10 subscription weeks. Muti will open the season with three weeks of concerts Sept. 22 to Oct. 8, plus additional residencies of five weeks from Jan. 26 to March 17, 2012, and a season-ending two weeks of programs June 14-24, 2012.


Muti will also lead the orchestra on its first overseas tours as its music director, including a late-summer trip to Europe's Salzburg (Austria) Festival, as well as concerts in Abu Dhabi and Muti's native Italy.

"After working closely with my artistic staff at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, I have planned a season that showcases the masterful artistry of this great orchestra, builds on our relationships with visionary artists, and further strengthens our commitment to serving the greater Chicago community, as well as communities abroad," said Muti in a prepared statement.

In terms of programming, artistic initiatives include "An Exuberant Era: 1911-12," which marks the centennial of composer Gustav Mahler's death in 1911 at age 51. Featured will be Mahler's first, fourth and sixth symphonies with conductors Jaap van Zweden, Bernard Haitink and Esa-Pekka Salonen, respectively; and Mahler's symphonic song cycle "Das Lied von der Erde" ("The Song of the Earth") under the baton of conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez, who will also lead the orchestra in its first performances of Arnold Schoenberg's landmark work "Pierrot lunaire."

The bicentennial of composer Franz Liszt's birth will be celebrated by the CSO's first performances of "A Faust Symphony," part of a Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 program (conducted by Muti) replicating the exact program the orchestra played in 1911 to honor the Liszt centennial.

Another artistic inititive for next season is a three-week, 13-concert "Keys to the City Piano Festival" (May 20 to June 12, 2012) during which the wide-ranging repertoire for that instrument will be on display. Programming for this mini-festival has been planned by longtime CSO guest artist Emanuel Ax, and will include concertos, solo recitals and chamber music performed by numerous guest artists.

For more details, visit or phone (312) 294-3000. Subscription information is now available, with various ticket plans offering savings of up to 44 percent over regular single-ticket prices.