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Riccardo Muti
Neapolitan orchestral conductor Ricardo Muti is having his 80th birthday later this month. On that occasion the province of Naples, as part of its "A King's Summer" festivities will honor maestro Muti on the grounds of the Caserta Palace. He will accept the award and conduct the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra. Obviously the  youth orchestra will do something very youthful and silly --play Happy Birthday backwards or something (that's what I'd do!).

Muti was born in Naples in 1941 but spent his early childhood in Molfetta, near Bari, on Italy's southern Adriatic coast. He graduated from Liceo classico (Classical Lyceum) Vittorio Emanuele II in Naples, then studied piano at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella in Naples. He also has a diploma in Composition and Conducting from the Milan Conservatory. In Bari he  studied composition with Nino Rota, whom he considers a mentor.  He has been a frequent conductor of operas and concerts at the Salzburg Festival and regularly conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and in 1973 was appointed its principal conductor, succeeding Otto Klemperer. In 1986, Muti became principal conductor of the Filarmonica della Scala, Milan, and later was music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

He currently holds two music directorships, at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini.

A prolific recording artist, Muti has received dozens of honors and awards, including two Grammy Awards. He is especially associated with the music of Giuseppe Verdi. He is among the world's leading conductors; in a 2015 poll he was ranked by music critics as the world's fifth best living conductor.

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