Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly has withdrawn from his next two months of scheduled performances, citing health reasons. Chief among the cancellations were two weeks in January with the Boston Symphony, where he is widely speculated to be a potential candidate to succeed James Levine as the orchestra’s next music director.
Chailly's manager, Ronald Wilford, said the maestro will bow out of the annual year-end performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, where he is music director. Also dropped from his schedule are concert performances of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos in Valencia, Spain, and two weeks with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich.
Chailly is just 58 but is in his fourth decade as a major international conductor. He has dealt with an ongoing heart condition involving atrial fibrillation; in 2008 he had to withdraw from concerts with the Chicago Symphony on doctor’s orders (at the time it was searching for a music director of its own). Despite a busy calendar in Europe he has largely avoided transatlantic travel.
Chailly's concerts in Boston had been particularly anticipated as the first meeting between the BSO and the prominent conductor. He was slated to lead ambitious programs featuring Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Mendelssohn's rarely-performed Lobgesang or "Hymn of Praise." The BSO said in a statement that replacement programs will be announced at a later date.