Jump Main Menu. Go directly to the main content (Acces key S)

The Princess of Asturias Foundation

Sección de idiomas

Fin de la sección de idiomas


Sección de utilidades

Fin de la sección de utilidades

  • Síguenos en:
Start of Secondary Menu End of Secondary Menu


Start of main content

Riccardo Muti

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 2011

Your Majesty, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Illustrious Authorities, Ladies and Gentlemen and Distinguished Laureates:

I was very surprised to be asked to pronounce a few words [here today], because orchestra conductors should never speak. But since I am here, I shall have to say something. First of all, something important: it is a great honour for me to receive this highly prestigious recognition, in this beautiful theatre, from the hands of the Prince and in the presence of the Princess [of Asturias] and Her Majesty [the Queen].

Naturally, everyone expects me to say that music is the most beautiful thing in the world, that music brings people together, that harmony and beauty are essential in the world for it to keep turning. That is what we always say; however, we live in [a state of] disharmony, struggle, war, hate. This means we must continue to keep striving for beauty to be attained and for good to triumph over evil.

In fact, listening to the beautiful speech given by the great Leonard Cohen, I was reminded of something important: the importance of encounters. Encounters: music is an encounter, the opera is an encounter… and these wonders that amaze us and awaken our passions later blossom from these encounters. Naturally, my present task as a musician is not only to demonstrate whether I am able –more or less– to conduct Verdi, or Beethoven or Strauss, but whether through music I can make these encounters lead to beauty and brotherhood.

That said –and I do not wish to insist on this because one can easily wax rhetorical [in this respect]– I would rather take this opportunity to say, this evening, that everyone is thanking Spain, but I also have to express my thanks because I am Neapolitan... (Good, you have laughed!) When I was a child living in Naples and my mother told me: “Go for ham or cured sausage to the Via Roma,” she did not say “the Via Roma”, she would say: “Go to Toledo”. Even today, in Naples, the Via Roma is “Toledo” for Neapolitans. The most extraordinary neighbourhoods in Naples, which represent the authentic, passionate Naples, are called the “Spanish Quarters”. And the San Carlos Theatre, the Teatro Real de San Carlos, which is –not because I say so, but because everyone says, I am afraid– the most beautiful theatre in the world, was built on the instigation of Carlos III de Borbón. What does this mean? That the relationship between Naples and Spain has been an extremely important, strong and meaningful relationship.

And if, this coming month of March in Madrid, we interpret a work by Saverio Mercadante, who was a famous musician of the Neapolitan school, we shall be able to do so because we found the manuscript in the Library of Madrid. Because Mercadante was a musician who was very highly considered in this country.

Therefore, I receive this prestigious Award this evening expressing my thanks not only to the Foundation and to the Prince [of Asturias], but also to Spain, because, as is plain to see, I am not a man of the north, but one who is profoundly Mediterranean. Consequently, I am sure that part of my blood is Spanish. So this award is doubly significant. Thank you.

End of main content

Sección de utilidades

Fin de la sección de utilidades