In 1980 Riccardo Muti succeeded Eugene Ormandy as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra which, during the 12 years of his tenure, he took on numerous international tours. In 1987, Muti was appointed principal conductor of the Scala Philharmonic Orchestra with which ensemble he received the Viotti d'Oro in 1988 and with which he went on tour in Italy and in Europe. In 1991 he announced his resignation from the Philadelphia Orchestra at the end of that season. He was succeeded by Wolfgang Sawallisch. He is now best known for having been the Music Director of Milan's La Scala opera house from 1986 to 2005.
Muti has been a regular guest of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. In 1996, he conducted the latter at the closing of the Viennese Festival Week, in a tour in the Far East (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong) and in Germany as well as at the Vienna New Year's Concert in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004.
Muti's EMI discography is extensive and many of his recordings with the Philharmonia are in the current catalogue. His many recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra include the first complete Beethoven Symphony Cycle made for compact disc, as well as critically acclaimed recordings of the music of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Scriabin. He also recorded music by composers such as Respighi, Berlioz, Franck, Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Rachmaninov.
Riccardo Muti was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the Universitat de Barcelona on 13 October 2003.