Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Founded 1891

Chicago Symphony Orchestra



The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1891, and is praised as being one of the greatest orchestras in the world. The CSO performs over a hundred concerts every year in Chicago. These concerts are held in prestigious venues, such as the Symphony Center and at the Ravinia Festival. They also frequently perform sold-out concerts nationally and internationally and their audiences constantly enjoy their remarkable sound through best-selling releases of their recordings.   The orchestra is led by the renowned conductor Riccardo Muti, its tenth music director. CSO’s vision is to deepen their engagement with the Chicago community, to nurture the legacy of the orchestra while supporting a new generation of musicians, and to collaborate with visionary artists. The widely celebrated French composer and conductor,Pierre Boulez, was principal guest conductor until his death aged 90, and was named Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus in 2006.

Recordings with the CSO have won over 60 Grammy awards. Muti’s first recording with the orchestra wasVerdi’s Messa da Requiem, which won 2 Grammy awards. Verdi’s Otello was the second recording and made the orchestra the celebrated winner of the International Opera Award.

The sounds of the orchestra, through the CSO Radio Broadcast Series, are broadcast weekly on the WFMT network radio and via With this, the orchestra reaches a very large audience of people around the globe. The CSO is part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA), which includes the outstanding Chicago Symphony Chorus. The CSOA brings internationally known guest artists and ensembles from a variety of genres to Chicago through a series called the Symphony Center Presents. The Orchestra presents a wide range of youth, community and education programs that engage more than 200,000 people. 

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s repertoire consists of recordings of works by great composers, released by the orchestra’s own independent label CSO Resound. The collection spans from early music to contemporary with remarkable performances of works byProkofiev, Gabrieli, Verdi, Bach and many more.

One of CSO’s outstanding and widely celebrated releases is Mason Bates’ Alternative Energy and Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry, united on the 2014 release from CSO Resound. Both works were commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and premiered under the baton of CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti.