Chailly was born in Milan into a musical family of Romagnol and French descent. He studied composition with his father, Luciano Chailly. Chailly studied at the music conservatories in Perugia and Milan. He later studied conducting with Franco Ferrara. In his youth, Chailly also played the drums in a rhythm-and-blues band.
At age 20, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at La Scala, where he made his conducting debut in 1978. From 1982 to 1988, Chailly was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and from 1983 to 1986 principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1986 to 1993, he led the Teatro Comunale of Bologna.
From 1988 to 2004, Chailly was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO), where he dedicated himself to performances of the standard symphonic tradition, notably Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler. Among notable projects, Chailly led the 1995 Mahler Festival that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mahler's first concert at the Concertgebouw.
In 1986, Chailly conducted the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig for the first time, at the Salzburg Festival, after Herbert von Karajan had introduced Chailly to the orchestra. His next guest-conducting appearance with the Leipzig orchestra was in 2001, and after an additional appearance, he was named the 19th Kapellmeister of the orchestra. In August 2005, he officially became the chief conductor of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and general music director (GMD) of Oper Leipzig. In May 2008, he extended his contract with the Gewandhausorchester to 2015. However, he concurrently resigned as GMD of the Oper Leipzig, reportedly after conflict over the hiring of personnel without his consultation. His projects in Leipzig have included an international Mahler festival in May 2011, featuring 10 different orchestras.
Chailly became the first music director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (La Verdi) in 1999, and held the post until 2005. He now has the title of Conductor Laureate with La Verdi. In December 2013, La Scala announced the appointment of Chailly as its next music director, effective 1 January 2017 through 31 December 2022. August 2015, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra announced the appointment of Chailly as its next music director, effective with the 2016 Lucerne Festival, with an initial contract of 5 years.
Chailly has been married twice. He has a daughter, Luana, by his first marriage to Anahi Carfi, and a stepson from his second and current marriage to Gabriella Terragni. Source: Wikipedia