The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2016. The glorious history of the CSO was forged under the direction of many famous conductors. During its first 60 years, the CSO came to be known as America's premier orchestra, and in one fell swoop in the 1970s, it rocketed to the level of a world-class orchestra. Sir Georg Solti, appointed as music director in 1969, was a driving force in this success. Solti added an additional layer of polish to the already potent ensemble and powerful sound of the CSO, displayed in the CSO's ability to outstrip even the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics. Solti also organized its first European and Japanese tours. More than a few nostalgic Japanese fans will well remember the popularity of Solti and the CSO during that period. One of Solti's merits was actively welcoming conductors with styles different from his own, such as Claudio Abbado and Carlo Maria Giulini. Each member of the CSO possessed soloist-level abilities, and this led to its supple and elegant beauty. Daniel Barenboim followed Solti as musical director, further succeeding in enhancing the CSO's presence as one of the three major orchestras in the world.
Riccardo Muti currently holds the position of CSO music director. The CSO is one of the three major orchestras in the world, and among those three is considered the most fruitful and stable. During the five years since Muti's inauguration, the CSO has captivated fans around the world through its many performances, and it has undertaken several world tours, including a performance in Russia, as well as live broadcasts that bring the CSO into the digital age. In the past, citizens of Chicago celebrated the triumphant return of the CSO under Solti's direction with a great parade. Now, Muti's CSO is planning a Japan/Asia tour that is sure to eclipse even the great age of Solti's CSO.