Riccardo Chailly OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [rikˈkardo ʃʃaˈ(j)i], French: [ʃɑji]; born 20 February 1953) is an Italian conductor. He is currently music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, since 2016, and music director of La Scala, since 2017. Prior to this, he held chief conducting positions at the Gewandhausorchester (2005–2016); the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (1988–2004); the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (1982–1988); and the Teatro Comunale of Bologna (1986–1993). He was also the first musical director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (1999–2005) and principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1983–1986). Among the world's leading conductors, in a 2015 Bachtrack poll, he was ranked by music critics as the world's best living conductor.
Born in Milan, Chailly first studied composition with his father, Luciano Chailly, in his youth. He continued with composition at the conservatories in Milan and Perugia, but later shifted to conducting under Piero Guarino and Franco Ferrara. He made his conducting debut at La Scala in 1978 with Massenet's Werther, where he had been assistant director to Claudio Abbado since 1973. Upon becoming principal conductor at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he embarked on performing standard symphonic works—particularly Bruckner and Mahler—but expanded the orchestra's previously minuscule 20th century and contemporary repertoire. Long associated with the Gewandhausorchester, he is credited with having significantly raised their international status. He has also been the music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra since 2016, with a contract until 2026. For 30 years he has recorded exclusively with Decca, and recordings with the Gewandhausorchester have been particularly acclaimed.
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