At the age of 20, Riccardo Chailly was appointed assistant at La Scala in Milan by his mentor Claudio Abbado. He was just 26 years old when he made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in January 1980 at the invitation of Herbert von Karajan – with Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. Since then, he has appeared regularly with the orchestra.
Riccardo Chailly studied at the conservatories of Perugia, Rome and Milan as well as at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana. His debut at the Royal Opera House in London was followed by engagements at internationally renowned houses such as Wiener Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Opernhaus Zürich. Chailly has also given concerts with the world’s leading orchestras and appeared at the Salzburg Easter Festival and the Lucerne Festival. He was chief conductor of the Radio-Symphonie-Orchesters Berlin (now Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin), principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and music director of the Teatro Comunale Bologna. For 16 years (1988–2004) he was at the helm of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam; he also led the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi until 2005, when he became general music director of Oper Leipzig and also took up the post of 19th Gewandhauskapellmeister. Chailly has been music director of La Scala in Milan since 2015 and has also been chief conductor of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra since 2016. The Royal Academy of Music made the conductor an honorary member. He is a Cavaliere di Gran Croce of the Republic of Italy, an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion.