Performance Sunday, April 17, 2011 | 2 PM

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Stalin hated Shostakovich—especially his notorious opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which the Communist government banned in 1936—but the tuneful populism of the Fifth Symphony appeased the dictator and his Soviet authorities when it premiered a year later. The Chicago Symphony and Muti close out their three-night stay at Carnegie Hall with this piece, hailed today as Shostakovich’s most popular work.


  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Riccardo Muti, Music Director and Conductor


  • CHERUBINI Overture in G Major
  • LISZT Les préludes
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5


  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    A musical force in Chicago and around the world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been consistently hailed as one of the finest international orchestras since it was founded in 1891. In September 2010, renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti became the CSO's 10th Music Director. His vision for the orchestra-to deepen its engagement with the Chicago community, to nurture its legacy while supporting a new generation of musicians, and to collaborate with visionary artists-signals a new era for the institution. French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, whose longstanding relationship with the CSO led to his appointment as principal guest conductor in 1995, was named Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus in 2006.

    In collaboration with renowned conductors and guest artists on the international music scene, the CSO performs well over 150 concerts each year at its home, Symphony Center, and in summer residency at the Ravinia Festival. With the launch of The Institute for Learning, Access and Training, the CSO engages more than 200,000 Chicago-area residents annually. Music lovers outside Chicago enjoy the sounds of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only through its Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series and best-selling recordings on its acclaimed in-house record label CSO Resound, but also through sold-out tour performances in the United States and around the globe. Since 1971, the CSO has undertaken 36 overseas tours, including 27 to Europe, six to the Far East, and one each to Russia, Australia, and South America. Bank of America is the global sponsor of the CSO. Visit for more information.

    Riccardo Muti

    Born in Naples, world-renowned conductor Riccardo Muti first came to the attention of critics and the public in 1967, when he won the Guido Cantelli Competition for conductors in Milan. In 1971, he was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct at the Salzburg Festival; his association with both the festival and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra continues today. Mr. Muti has served as principal conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, chief conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Teatro alla Scala. In 2006, he was appointed Artistic Director of Salzburg's Pentecost Festival, and he currently serves as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he assumed in September 2010. Mr. Muti was awarded his first two Grammy Awards for his debut recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Verdi's Requiem, released on the CSO Resound label in September 2010.

    Mr. Muti has demonstrated social and civic conscience as an artist through concerts in numerous locations symbolizing the world's troubled past and contemporary history, which he has conducted as part of the Ravenna Festival's Le vie dell'Amicizia (The Paths of Friendship) project. These have included performances in L'Aquila, Sarajevo, Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Yerevan, Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, and El Djem. In July 2010 in Trieste, Italy, he organized an orchestra of more than 650 young musicians from Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia for a Concert for Friendship before a crowd numbering more than 10,000, including the presidents of those three countries in acknowledgement of their commitment to building a future of cooperation.

    In 2004, Mr. Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, which consists of young musicians selected by an international committee from some 600 Italian instrumentalists. In May 2007, he began a five-year project dedicated to the Neapolitan School of the 18th Century with the Cherubini Orchestra as part of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

    Innumerable honors have been bestowed on Riccardo Muti over the course of his career. He has been made a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Italian Republic and has received the Verdienstkreuz from Germany; recently, he received the decoration of Officer of the Legion of Honor from French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a private ceremony held at Élysée Palace. He also was made an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The Salzburg Mozarteum awarded him its silver medal for his contribution to Mozart's music, and in Vienna he has been elected an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle, and the Wiener Staatsoper. President Vladimir Putin of Russia awarded him the Order of Friendship, and the State of Israel has honored him with the Wolf Prize for the arts. In March 2011, he was selected as the second-ever winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize. Visit for more information.
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Shostakovich Symphony No. 5
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Myung-Whun Chung
CSO Resound

At a Glance

LUIGI CHERUBINI  Overture in G Major 
Cherubini enjoyed success with both serious and comic operas in his native Italy and in London before moving to Paris, and he had become an international celebrity by the early years of the 19th century. In 1815, the new Royal Philharmonic Society in London asked Cherubini to write three works—an overture, a symphony, and an Italian vocal piece—for its second season. That concert overture, in G major, is one of his finest compositions.

FRANZ LISZT  Les préludes 
In November 1856, Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner took part in a concert in St. Gallen, Switzerland, with Wagner conducting the “Eroica” Symphony and Liszt his own Orpheus and Les préludes. The latter work, which had been finished and first performed only two years before, must have sounded modern, fresh, and novel in 1856; arguably Liszt’s best-known composition, it is certainly his most-performed orchestral work. In his symphonic poems, Liszt took ideas that were in the air and made something unimagined, distinctive, successful, and highly influential.

The circumstances surrounding the creation of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony are as famous as the music itself. Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District had been triumphantly received when it premiered in 1934; in a 1936 article in Pravda, however, it was suddenly attacked as fidgety, screaming, neurotic, coarse, primitive, and vulgar. Shostakovich, who had recently finished his Fourth Symphony but withdrew the score, wrote his official response to this criticism in just three months, issuing “the creative reply of a Soviet artist to justified criticism,” the astonishing phrase that is forever linked with the Symphony No. 5.

Program Notes