In an interview with the Italian newsmagazine L’espresso, Riccardo Muti takes on the topics of politics, classical music’s future and even the afterlife.

Now in Rome for concerts with his Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, the CSO music director discusses his lifelong mission of preserving Italian culture and ensuring the continued vitality of classical music. “I do not tire of saying that with music, you can help build a better society,” he said. He also evoked the wisdom of the 6th century Roman statesman Cassiodorus: “If men continue to commit injustice, God will punish us by taking away [our] music. “

Muti also refuted rumors that he’s interested in political office: “I’m a musician, that in itself is a difficult profession, and I have no expertise in politics.” Instead, he remains committed to music and music education: “It’s time to pass on what I have learned from my teachers and from my experiences of a lifetime.”

Returning to Chicago next week, Muti will lead the last two CSO subscription programs of the 2014-15 season: June 11-13, Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, and June 18-20, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and and Mason Bates’ world-premiere Anthology of Fantastic Zoology.

To read the full interview (in Italian), click here.