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Riccardo Chailly ( ) (born 20 February 1953) is an Italianmarker conductor. He started his career as an opera conductor and gradually extended his repertoire to encompass symphonic music.


Chailly was born in Milanmarker in a musical family. He studied composition with his father, Luciano Chailly. Chailly studied at the music conservatories in Perugiamarker and Milanmarker. He later studied conducting with Franco Ferrara. In his youth, Chailly also played the drums in a rhythm-and-blues band.

At age twenty, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at La Scalamarker. He made his conducting debut there in 1978 and was soon in great demand, making appearances at the Vienna State Operamarker, the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardenmarker, the Salzburg Festival, and the Bavarian State Opera.

From 1982 to 1988, Chailly was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and from 1983 to 1986 principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1986 to 1993, he led the Teatro Comunale of Bologna.

Chailly made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam in 1985. From 1988 to 2004, Chailly was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (KCO), where he dedicated himself to performances of the standard symphonic tradition, notably Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, with which the orchestra made its name but also significantly broadened the repertoire with 20th century and contemporary music. Among notable projects, Chailly led the 1995 Mahler Festival that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mahler's first concert at the Concertgebouw. Chailly also conducted opera in Amsterdam, both at the KCO's annual Christmas Matinee concert as well as at De Nederlandse Opera, where he bade his operatic farewell to Amsterdammarker with a production of Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo. One report stated that Chailly decided in 2002 to leave the KCO when, at his last contract negotiations, the orchestra offered him an extension for two years rather than five.

In 1986, Chailly conducted the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for the first time, at the Salzburg Festival, after Herbert von Karajan had introduced Chailly to the orchestra. In August 2005, he became the chief conductor of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and general music director (GMD) of Oper Leipzig. His initial Leipzig contract was through 2010. In May 2008, he extended his contract with the Gewandhausorchester to 2015. However, he resigned as GMD of the Oper Leipzig, reportedly after conflict over the hiring of personnel without his consultation.

Chailly has an exclusive recording contract with Decca, and his recordings with Decca include complete cycles of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. More recently, with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly has led recordings of Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and the Robert Schumann symphonies in the re-orchestrations by Gustav Mahler.

In the United Statesmarker, Chailly has been guest conductor at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He has recorded an album of Dmitri Shostakovich with The Philadelphia Orchestra, titled Shostakovich: The Dance Album and Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps with the Cleveland Orchestra. However, his appearances as a guest conductor have been very rare for a number of years.

Chailly has a daughter, Luana, by his first marriage to Anahi Carfi, and a stepson from his second marriage to Gabriella Terragni, his current wife.


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