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Maestro Muti unruffled by The Brawl in Orchestra Hall

Conductor Riccardo Muti (seen here September) never stopped performing Thursday night when fight broke out during Chicago Symphony Orchestrconcert. |

Conductor Riccardo Muti (seen here in September) never stopped performing Thursday night when a fight broke out during a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 14, 2012 8:11AM

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti knew something strange was happening in the audience, but he didn’t immediately think “fist fight.”

It was a fight in Orchestra Hall, however, with a man in his 30s slugging a 67-year-old man during a quarrel over seats Thursday night. It played out during the second movement of the Brahms Symphony No. 2.

Muti said he could see some of the activity in the box on the far audience left side of the hall “out of the corner of my eye.” And he heard the same thudding noise that others heard.

“I thought then that this must be some sort of medical problem,” Muti said.

“You know every conductor has ‘killed some people’ in his concerts and I have had four or five people at least who were taken away from a performance and would never be able to return,” he said with a sly smile.

But days later, Muti seemed unruffled by the dustup.

“It was certainly unusual, but it was not such a disturbance that we could not go on playing,” he said.

“Your newspaper I think said that I gave ‘dagger eyes’ to the people in the box,” he said. “But really I looked there initially out of curiosity and then out of concern.”

The 67-year-old patron suffered a cut to his forehead. His attacker left before police arrived.

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