A complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, a French music festival, a Pierre Boulez salute and a European tour are among the highlights of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2014/15 season announced at a press conference Feb. 3 by Riccardo Muti, CSO music director, and Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Muti will conduct 10 weeks of subscription concerts next season, which marks his fifth year as music director. Along with his residencies in September/October, January, February/March and June, he will lead the CSO on a three-week tour of Europe in October and November, and three performances at Carnegie Hall in January. The season will begin Sept. 19 with a free community concert, conducted by Muti, at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The annual gala will be Sept. 20 Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, also conducted by Muti.

For a flipbook version of the 2014/15 catalog, go to cso.org/catalog.

The season also features the world premieres of commissioned works by Mason Bates and Anna Clyne to conclude their five-year terms as Mead Composers-in-Residence.


As a main theme of the CSO’s 2014/15 programming, Muti explores the music of two Russian giants: Tchaikovsky and Scriabin, two composers with a common heritage but distinctive styles. Long a champion of Scriabin’s music, Muti is dedicated to performing not only the composer’s most famous works but also his less familiar scores next season, which marks the centennial of his death.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), composer of the most enduring orchestral and theatrical scores of the 19th century, broke free from the predominant Russian nationalist movement and forged a musical style that merged native elements with Western compositional techniques. Tchaikovsky’s younger compatriot, Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), was an inventive figure whose idiosyncratic musical language evolved over time into his own system of chromaticism.

The CSO’s overview of Tchaikovsky and Scriabin consists of Muti leading nine programs of music by these great Russian composers. Muti begins the CSO’s Tchaikovsky survey with a free community concert in the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park featuring The Tempest, the Suite from The Sleeping Beauty and the popular Symphony No. 4 (Sept. 19).

For next season’s first subscription program, Muti will lead the CSO in Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest, Debussy’s La mer and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony (Sept. 25, 26, 27, 30).

The CSO celebrates the 100th anniversary of Andrzej Panufnik’s birth with performances of Panufnik’s Concerto in modo antico led by Muti, with CSO Principal Trumpet Christopher Martin as soloist, followed by Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 (Polish) (Oct. 2, 3, 4).

For his January residency, Muti will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 (Winter Daydreams) and Yefim Bronfman in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (Jan. 15, 16, 17, 2015).

Next, Muti will lead the CSO and Chorus in Scriabin’s Symphony No. 1 and Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky, with soloist mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova and tenor Sergey Skorokhodov in his CSO debut (Jan. 22, 23, 24; Feb. 1, 2015).

Muti conducts Scriabin’s Third Symphony, The Divine Poem, together with Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Debussy’s La mer (Jan. 27, 30, 2015).

The two Russian composers are paired in a program of Scriabin’s Symphony No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) (Feb. 26, 27, 28, March 3, 2015).

CSO Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong and Assistant Principal Cello Kenneth Olsen will be joined by pianist Jonathan Biss when Muti conducts Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, Ligeti’s Lontano for Orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian) (March 5, 6, 7, 2015).

The CSO’s penultimate subscription concert will pair Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy (Symphony No. 4), and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony (June 11, 12, 13, 2015).

Muti ends the season with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, along with the world premiere of a commissioned work by Mead Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates, Anthology of Fantastic Zoology (June 18, 19, 20, 2015).


A seasonlong focus on French composers, “From Berlioz to Boulez: Color and Sensuality,” traces a nation’s search for a musical identity, from precision of the Renaissance and Baroque to the modernism of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado will lead the CSO in tribute to Pierre Boulez, who celebrates his 90th birthday in 2015, with performances featuring his Figures-Doubles-Prismes and Ibéria from Debussy’s Images, as well as Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Alice Sara Ott in her CSO debut in an Afterwork Masterworks program. Subscription programs also include Stravinsky’s Fireworks, Op. 4. (Nov. 12, 13, 14, 15).

Charles Dutoit will return to conduct Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, D’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Air and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe, Suite No. 2. Joining him will be pianist Louis Lortie in Franck’s Symphonic Variations (March 12, 14, 17, 2015).

Dutoit also will conduct a second all-French program featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma in Lalo’s Concerto in D Minor. Other works on the program are Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Symphonic Fragments from The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Debussy, as well as Saint-Saëns’ La muse et le poète, with Ma and CSO Concertmaster Robert Chen (March 19, 20, 21, 2015).

Baroque specialist Harry Bicket will lead a suite of dances from Rameau’s opera Platée, and Poulenc’s Concert champêtre for harpsichord and orchestra, with Kristian Bezuidenhout as soloist. Also on the program are Four Preludes and Fugues from J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, as arranged by Igor Stravinsky, and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 (April 30, May 1, 2, 2015).

French native Ludovic Morlot conducts a French-themed program of Stravinsky’s Jeu de cartes and Ravel’s La valse, as well as Ravel’s Concerto for Left Hand with soloist Denis Kozhukhin in his CSO debut, and Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Two Beyond the Score performances provide a portrait of Maurice Ravel (June 4, 5, 6, 7, 2015).


The CSO’s annual three-week festival takes a French focus for “Reveries and Passions,” featuring 20th-century operatic and theatrical works linked by themes of beauty, fantasy and nocturnal darkness, all conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Two operas, Ravel’s one-act L’enfant et les sortilèges, and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, will anchor the festival.

Debussy’s cantata La damoiselle élue (“The Blessed Damsel”) and Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite are paired with L’enfant (May 7, 8, 9, 15, 2015). L’enfant features the CSO debut of soprano Chloe Briot as the child. Also in the cast are baritone Stéphane Degout (l’Horloge/le Chat), bass-baritone Eric Owens (le Fauteuil/l’Arbre), contralto Elodie Mechain (la Mère/la Tasse chinoise/la Libellule), soprano Marie-Eve Munger (le Feu/le Rossignol/la Princesse), mezzo Marianne Crebassa (la Bergère/un Pâtre/l’Ecureuil/la Chatte), soprano Kate Royal (la Pastourelle/la Chauve-Souris/la Chouette) and tenor Manuel Nunez-Camelino (la Théière/le Petit Vieillard/la Rainette).

Degout and Owens return for Pelléas et Mélisande, with Degout as Pelléas, Owens as Golaud, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice as Mélisande and bass-baritone Willard White as Arkel (May 14, 16, 19, 2015).

French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be the featured soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major and Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie. CSO Principal Flute Mathieu Dufour also will perform Debussy’s Syrinx (May 21, 22, 23, 2015).


The Austro-Germanic tradition, which lies at the heart of Western classical music, is represented throughout the 2014/15 season in masterworks of the core orchestral repertoire, including works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler.

Muti launches the 2014/15 season with the CSO and Chicago Symphony Chorus in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The soloists are soprano Camilla Nylund, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, tenor Christopher Ventris and bass Eric Owens. The work also will be performed Sept. 20 at the CSO’s annual Symphony Ball (Sept. 18, 21, 23).

Directing from the harpsichord, British conductor Nicholas Kraemer will lead Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos (Nov. 20, 21, 22, 23, 25).

Three generations of Austro-German composers are scheduled for returning Austrian guest conductor Manfred Honeck’s program of Haydn’s Symphony No. 93, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Richard Strauss’ Don Juan (Dec. 11, 12, 13, 16).

Guest conductor Jaap van Zweden is joined by German baritone Matthias Goerne in a selection of orchestrated songs by Schubert and Strauss. The program, which will also be performed at a run-out concert on Feb. 6, 2015, concludes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (Feb. 5, 7, 8, 2015).

Muti will lead an all-Mozart program with the Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 24. The Chicago Symphony Chorus joins Muti and the CSO for a performance of the Süssmayer completion of Mozart’s Requiem, with soprano Rosa Feola, mezzo Alisa Kolosova, tenor Saimir Pirgu and bass Michele Pertusi (Feb. 19, 20, 21, 24, 2015).

Muti returns for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra, with CSO Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong, Assistant Principal Cello Kenneth Olsen and pianist Jonathan Biss, in a program that also includes Ligeti’s Lontano for Orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (March 5, 6, 7, 2015).

Returning guest conductor Edo de Waart will conduct Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 with Orion Weiss as soloist, as well as Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Nocturne by American composer Michael Ippolito (March 26, 27, 28, 29, 2015).

Making her annual appearance with the CSO, Mitusko Uchida will lead two Mozart concertos from the piano — Nos. 6 and 26 (Coronation) — and will be joined by German soprano Dorothea Röschmann in Schumann’s song cycle for soprano and piano, Frauenliebe und  -leben (April 2, 3, 4, 2015).

Former Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink will return to lead the orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 (April 9, 10 11, 14, 2015).

Semyon Bychkov, a frequent guest conductor, will lead the revised 1890 version of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, on both the subscription series and an Afterwork Masterworks concert (April 24-26, 2015).

Harry Bicket combines French and German repertoire in a program of Four Preludes and Fugues from J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, in an arrangement by Stravinsky with harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout, and the composer’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 (April 30, May 1, 2, 2015).


In October, the CSO will embark on its 32nd European tour and its fifth to Europe with Muti. The CSO will make its debut in Warsaw, Poland, followed by two concerts in Paris and a weeklong residency in Vienna with four performances at the Musikverein, two of which will feature Verdi’s Requiem.

Muti and the CSO will return to New York City’s Carnegie Hall for three concerts Jan. 30-31 and Feb. 1, 2015, with three programs that reflect themes of the CSO’s 2014/15 season. The Chicago Symphony Chorus also will appear Feb. 1 with the CSO in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.

With guest conductor Jaap van Zweden, the CSO also will perform two run-out concerts during the 2014/15 season: at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Neb., with baritone Matthias Goerne in songs by Strauss and Schubert, as well as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Feb. 6, 2015), and at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center in Urbana-Champaign, in Bartok’s Rhapsodies Nos. 1-2 for Violin and Orchestra, with CSO Concertmaster Robert Chen as soloist and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (Oct. 11).

For season and subscription details, go to cso.org/subscribe.