October 1, 2011

Honorary Membership for Riccardo Muti

© Jeannette Handler

In a ceremony arranged by the Salzburg Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic on July 28, 2011, the Italian conductor Riccardo Muti was presented with  honorary membership in the Vienna Philharmonic on the occasion of  his 70th birthday. The collaboration of this artist with our orchestra, which began forty years ago with a production at the Salzburg Festival of Donizettis "Don Pasquale" and which has continued without interruption since that time, has included 26 Philharmonic subscription concerts since 1975 and nine opera productions ("Cosi fan Tutte", La clemenza di Tito", "Don Giovanni", "La Traviata", "Die Zauberflöte", "Moise et Pharaon", "Otello", "Orfeo ed Euridice", "Macbeth") as well as 73 concerts in Salzburg and numerous tours, opera evenings, television concerts and recordings.


Among the special highpoints in our mutual association are: the performance of the Mozart Requiem in the Salzburg Cathedral for Herbert von Karajan (1989); the memorial for Leonard Bernstein in Vienna (1990); the Gala Concert in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic (1992); the 125th Anniversary of the Vienna Musikverein (1995) and the 850th Anniversary of St. Stephans Cathedral in Vienna (1997). In addition to these Muti has conducted three Vienna Philharmonic Weeks in Japan in the years 1999, 2005, and 2008 (as well as a tour to Japan in 1975); four Vienna Philharmonic Weeks in New York (1994, 1998, 1999, 2006); productions of Mozarts "Cosi fan Tutti", "Don Giovanni" and "Le nozze di Figaro" in Ravenna (1996, 1999, 2002); the New Years Concerts of 1993, 1997, 2004; a performance of the Verdi Requiem in the Vienna State Opera for the Verdi Year 2001;and the unforgettable performance of Hector Berliozs "Lélio ou Le retour à la vie" (with Gérard Depardieu as narrator) at the Salzburg Festival in 2007, along with the Verdi Requiem this past summer.


In the course of the past forty years, Riccardo Muti has developed into one of the most important conductors in the history of our orchestra by contributing to the continuation of the Philharmonic style of playing with which he was first confronted as a 30-year-old conductor. For this reason, the bestowal of honorary membership in the Vienna Philharmonic is a logical attestation to his artistic service, and reflects the close ties of friendship that bind him and our orchestra as well. The ceremony which included the presentation of the honorary certificate, which was specially designed by Professor Otto Stefferl, was attended by Festival President Dr. Helga Rabl-Stadler and Vienna State Opera Director Dominique Meyer. The musical presentation was in the hands of one of Riccardo Mutis longest-standing musical associates: Concertmaster Rainer Küchl, who entered his orchestral service on January 1, 1971, performed, along with Eckhard Seifert, Heinrich Koll and Gerhard Iberer, the "Largo e sostenuto" and the "Finale Presto" from the String Quartet in E-flat major, Hob. III:38 by Joseph Haydn, a composer whose works have always been performed with particular dedication by Riccardo Muti.