Building on its tradition of training young musicians and arts administrators and on the initiative of its Music Director, Maestro Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) developed the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition and Apprenticeship to create opportunities for early career conductors to study and train with Mo. Muti and distinguished guest conductors during a two-year period. The Competition was held on a bi-annual basis. The winner received direct financial support and a specially tailored multi-year apprenticeship program geared toward career development. The apprenticeship included possibilities for study, travel and a variety of opportunities at the CSO without distraction from financial concerns. Built into the Competition’s program structure was a commitment from Mo. Muti to work with the winning conductor over the two years.
Mo. Muti approached the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) with the idea of a conductor’s competition in 2008. The CSO reached out to Lady Valerie Solti to ask for her permission to name the competition for her late husband, one of the most beloved music directors in the CSO’s history. She helped to shape the program concept, and stressed the importance of giving young artists access to established leaders such as Mo. Muti for a meaningful period of time. Lady Solti also emphasized that having structured access to and receiving dedicated mentoring from someone with Mo. Muti’s skill and experience – possible only with the freedom that financial support brings – could have far greater impact on a young conductor than a cash prize alone. Finally, she noted how mentoring programs were missing from the spectrum of training programs offered, and did not offer any experiences equal to the guidance and direction Mo. Muti can provide.
The Edes Foundation supported the Apprenticeship through 2018 and maintains this modest archive of past Solti Apprentices in order to continue to recognize and support the work of these promising conductors.