Cardiologists say that a "common heart rhythm disturbance" was responsible for Riccardo Muti's collapse during a recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsal.
"Fortunately, the remainder of the Maestro’s medical evaluation has revealed that he has superb heart function," said doctors from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in a statement. "In order to prevent possible future episodes of slow heart rate, we have implanted a standard pacemaker. Pacemakers are small devices (about the size of a silver dollar) that continuously monitor the heart rhythm and can deliver a small charge to create a heart beat if the patient’s own heart rate drops too low. Patients with pacemakers live full and active lives with excellent prognosis."
For his part, the maestro is calling the episode destiny:
"A music director’s relationship with his orchestra is like a marriage. Together, we are a family and we bond in times of joy and in times of challenge. I think it was destiny that I came to Chicago and I think what has happened is also destiny, because now I understand and feel more comfortable than ever about returning to my work."
Muti remains at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and it appears that there's no medical reason that would prevent Muti and the orchestra from developing the musical partnership that was to have begun this season with at least 10 weeks of conducting.