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Riccardo Chailly, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (French pronunciation: [ʃɑ.ji]; born 20 February 1953) is an Italian conductor. He started his career as an opera conductor and gradually extended his repertoire to encompass symphonic music.
Chailly was born in Milan in a musical family. He studied composition with his father, Luciano Chailly. Chailly studied at the music conservatories in Perugia and Milan. He later studied conducting with Franco Ferrara. In his youth, Chailly also played the drums in a rhythm-and-blues band.
At age twenty, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at La Scala, where he made his conducting debut in 1978. From 1982 to 1988, Chailly was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and from 1983 to 1986 principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1986 to 1993, he led the Teatro Comunale of Bologna.
Chailly made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam in 1985. From 1988 to 2004, Chailly was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (KCO), where he dedicated himself to performances of the standard symphonic tradition, notably Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, with which the orchestra made its name but also significantly broadened the repertoire with 20th century and contemporary music. Among notable projects, Chailly led the 1995 Mahler Festival that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mahler's first concert at the Concertgebouw. Chailly also conducted opera in Amsterdam, both at the KCO's annual Christmas Matinee concert as well as at De Nederlandse Opera (DNO), where his final opera production in Amsterdam was DNO's staging of Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo. One report stated that Chailly decided in 2002 to leave the KCO when, at his last contract negotiations, the orchestra offered him an extension for two years rather than five.
In 1986, Chailly conducted the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for the first time, at the Salzburg Festival, after Herbert von Karajan had introduced Chailly to the orchestra. His next guest-conducting appearance with the Leipzig orchestra was in 2001, and after an additional appearance, he was named the 19th Kapellmeister of the orchestra. In August 2005, he officially became the chief conductor of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and general music director (GMD) of Oper Leipzig. His initial Leipzig contract was through 2010. In May 2008, he extended his contract with the Gewandhausorchester to 2015. However, he concurrently resigned as GMD of the Oper Leipzig, reportedly after conflict over the hiring of personnel without his consultation.
In May 2011, Chailly organised an international Mahler festival in Leipzig, adding that composer to the city's pantheon of Bach, Wagner and Mendelssohn. Mahler had been junior conductor at the Leipzig Oper 1886–88 and had composed his first symphony there. Chailly invited ten different orchestras to participate in an event that was telecast worldwide, bookending the series himself with epic performances of the second and eighth symphonies – "one of the great Mahler 8s", in the words of the Mahler biographer, Norman Lebrecht.
Chailly became the first music director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (La Verdi) in 1999, and held the post until 2005. He now has the title of Conductor Laureate with La Verdi.
Chailly has an exclusive recording contract with Decca, and his recordings with Decca include complete cycles of the symphonies of Brahms, Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Other notable achievements include recordings of Stravinsky, Varese and Hindemith. More recently, with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly has led recordings of Felix Mendelssohn, Bach, Johannes Brahms, and the Robert Schumann symphonies in the re-orchestrations by Gustav Mahler. His past recordings with American orchestras included Shostakovich: The Dance Album with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps with the Cleveland Orchestra. In October 2011 Chailly released 'a set of the nine symphonies and a generous number of overtures' by Ludwig van Beethoven on Decca, played by the Gewandhausorchester.
Chailly has been married twice. He has a daughter, Luana, by his first marriage to Anahi Carfi, and a stepson from his second and current marriage to Gabriella Terragni.
|Principal Conductor, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin|
|Music Director, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi|