The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the world’s leading orchestras. In September 2010, renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti became its 10th music director. His tenure with the CSO has been distinguished by the strength of their artistic partnership; dedication to performing great works of the past and present; and the enthusiastic reception they have received on national and international tours; as well as their contributions to the cultural life of Chicago with performances throughout the city's many neighborhoods and at Orchestra Hall.
Founded in 1891 by its first music director, Theodore Thomas, the CSO’s other distinguished music directors include Frederick Stock, Désiré Defauw, Artur Rodzinski, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim. Jessie Montgomery is the CSO’s current Mead Composers-in-Residence, and Hilary Hahn is the CSO’s Artist-in-Residence.
The musicians of the CSO command a vast repertoire and annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in Chicago, and, since 1936, at the Ravinia Festival in the summer. The CSO also tours nationally and internationally. Since its first tour to Canada in 1892, the Orchestra has performed in 29 countries on five continents on 62 international tours.
Since 1916, recording has been significant in establishing the Orchestra’s international reputation with recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus earning a total of 64 Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Academy. Its independent label, CSO Resound, was launched in 2007. The 2010 release of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, with the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus conducted by Muti, was recognized with two Grammy awards. Listeners around the world can hear the CSO in weekly airings of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series, which is syndicated on the WFMT Radio Network and online at CSO.org/Radio. In addition, the CSO’s YouTube video of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, conducted by Muti, has received over 40 million views.