Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

Aus Italien, Op. 16

IV. Neapolitanisches Volksleben

Riccardo Muti & The Philadelphia Orchestra (1986)

Grosse Musikvereinssaal, Vienna Musikverein, 1986

About the Performance

This video originated as a televison broadcast of a live performance by Riccardo Muti and The Philadelphia Orchestra during their 1986 European tour. The broadcast was produced by ZDF, the German public television service.

Muti and the orchestra performed Aus Italien later the same year in New York City. Here’s an excerpt from Bernard Holland’s New York Times review on November 2, 1986:

“THERE is something about the light of Italy that evokes the awe and envy of German tourists from the north. Richard Strauss as a young man was one of them and, indeed, his Aus Italien, which Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra played at Avery Fisher Hall on Thursday night, seems less a description of a place than a response to it – a series of elaborate postcards in the hand of a young man deeply touched. Looking at these colorful missives, the average Italian would recognize the pictures but find the sentiments written on the back quite foreign.

The four movements of Aus Italien form a kind of hinge between Strauss’s early classical background and his later pictorial style. But some of the descriptive coloration (the work of a 23-year-old) is already vivid – in particular, the slithering, shimmering figures for winds, harp and trilling strings that begin the movement “On the Shore of Sorrento”. Mr. Muti and his splendid orchestra played Strauss’s music in long, powerful breaths and with a beautiful sound. Mr. Muti, ever the proud Italian, seemed quite moved by a young foreigner’s tribute to his homeland.”

About the Artists

Riccardo Muti

Born in Naples, Riccardo Muti studied piano under Vincenzo Vitale at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella, graduating with distinction. He subsequently received a diploma in composition and conducting from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he studied under the guidance of Bruno Bettinelli and Antonino Votto.

Muti first came to the attention of critics and the public in 1967, when he won the Guido Cantelli Conducting Competition – by unanimous vote of the jury – in Milan. In 1968, he became principal conductor of the “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino,” a position he held until 1980. In 1971 Muti was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, the first of many occasions, which led in 2020 to a celebration of fifty years of artistic collaboration with the Austrian festival.

During the 1970s, Riccardo Muti was chief conductor of the London’s Philharmonia Orchestra (1972 to 1982) succeeding Otto Klemperer. From 1980 to 1992, he inherited the position of Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra from Eugene Ormandy. In September 2010, Muti became Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The Philadelphia Orchestra

One of the so-called Big Five American orchestras, The Philadelphia Orchestra is a world-renowned cultural institution. The orchestra performed at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from its founding in 1900 until 2001 and is now based at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.