Conductor Ricardo Chailly Turns 60

Happy Birthday to Ricardo Chailly.(Photo: Decca Classics)
Happy Birthday to Ricardo Chailly.(Photo: Decca Classics)

The Italian conductor Ricardo Chailly is 60 years old today.  He was born in Milan in 1953 and got an auspicious start in his chosen career when he became an assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at La Scala when he was 20.  Chailly made his conducting debut there in 1978 and went on to become one of today’s major maestros.

As well as having conducted opera, Chailly seems to  have a particular love for the really big symphonic works, notably Bruckner and Mahler.  He had good opportunities to perform them when he was the chief conductor with the Berlin Radio Symphony from 1983 to 1986, and particularly as chief conductor with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1988 to 2004.  He’s made fine recordings of these composers’ mammoth symphonies, and his Decca recordings of the complete cycles of both of them them are very fine indeed.

In 2005, Chailly was named chief conductor of another venerable ensemble with a long and distinguished history, The Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, where Felix Mendelssohn once held that position.  This evening on Symphony @ 7, to recognize the maestro’s 60th birthday,  we have a fairly recent recording of him leading that orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, The Scottish.

Here’s Chailly talking about how he came to the music of Gustav Mahler:

And here, he conducts Mahler in a portion of the Resurrection Symphony in a highly acclaimed performance with his current orchestra.  Warning this segment starts pretty loud:

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