|Riccardo Muti (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)|
Riccardo Muti, former music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and future leader of the Chicago Symphony, is famous for his fiery temper and his rather old-fashioned autocratic approach to music making. Compromise is not often part of his repertoire; just ask the musicians at La Scala, where his directorship disintegrated in discord 3 years ago (2005).
A few days ago (7 November) Muti walked away from an engagement over a dispute with none other than the Queen of England.
Muti was to have conducted a concert by the Philharmonia Orchestra today (Thursday 13 November 2008) in honor of the Prince of Wales’s 60th birthday, a performance explicitly requested by Queen Elizabeth II. Charles is an ardent supporter of the Philharmonia, and the Queen was apparently an admirer of the conductor. She’d attended performances Muti conducted in La Scala and had nominated him for a knighthood. Furthermore, Muti has a history with the Philharmonia; he was their principal conductor from 1973 to 1982.
However, both Queen and Prince expressed concern about the length and "appropriateness" of Muti’s program. After some discussion, he bailed. The Philharmonia has been tight-lipped about Muti’s original plans; but according to Muti, "For ceremonial reasons that I don’t know, the program was shortened and it was decided that the orchestra would only play God Save the Queen and another piece by a British musician."
British conductor Christopher Warren-Green stepped in to replace Muti.
This coming Saturday Charles will throw his own celebration at his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire. The musical entertainment will be provided by Rod Stewart. Even the 63 year old rock singer couldn’t avoid royal editing, though. Stewart was reportedly asked to omit Do Ya Think I’m Sexy from his set as "too raucous."