According to a spokeperson, the orchestra instead offered Muti, who resigned as La Scala's music director earlier this month, the chance to guest conduct.
A statement released by the orchestra yesterday said, "Riccardo Muti is a wonderful and highly respected musician. During his recent visit to New York, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra did have conversations with Mr. Muti and extended an invitation, asking him to return to Chicago to conduct the orchestra after an absence from our podium of 30 years. We are very enthusiastic for him to come back to Chicago and hope that he will renew his relationship with the CSO. Currently, however, there is no news to report regarding the CSO's music director search."
Muti has not made a guest-conductor appearance with the orchestra since 1975.
Articles published yesterday, including one by the Associated Press, quoted Muti telling an interviewer from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he was "considering an offer" from the Chicago ensemble. "Since we are dealing with one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, I greatly appreciated their invitation."
The news was followed with the observation that current Chicago music director Daniel Barenboim was planning to step down at the end of next season. Although Muti was careful to say he wouldn't comment further, the inference was that he had been asked to fill Barenboim's post.