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When Riccardo Muti assumed the mantle of Philadelphia Orchestra music director from Eugene Ormandy inthere was much concerned buzzing, in and out of the orchestra ranks.

For the 44 seasons that Ormandy had presided over the ensemble, he had made ''the Philadelphia sound'' famous the world over--a sound synonymous with lush string sonority and warmly romantic phrasing. For many listeners, all that mattered was the grandly luxuriant Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction itself.

Muti, an Italian conductor then known to Americans chiefly as an opera maestro, made it clear that he wanted to change all that. His objective, he said, was to make the Philadelphia a more flexible performing body, more fluent in a broader range of repertory.

In that conservative city, even those observers who were not Ormandy loyalists braced themselves for trouble.

Eugene Ormandy then invited him...

Muti, the doomsayers charged, was out to dismantle the very values and traditions that had made the Philadelphia Orchestra great. Davis of New York magazine recently opined that the Philadelphia under Muti may be ''the most versatile, most finely tuned and most instrumentally refined orchestra in the land. A typical Muti rehearsal is a businesslike affair in the most productive sense.

Adjusting balances, refining dynamics, blending tone colors, the conductor took apart the Beethoven work which, of course, the orchestra has played many times before line by line and put it back together with a new clarity and drive. On this Saturday morning the maestro was addressing his players in English, laced "Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction" an occasional word of Italian.

In a makeshift baritone he demonstrated the bel canto phrasing that he was seeking. During the rehearsal break, Muti settled into a chair in his quietly elegant dressing room and spoke about how the love affair with the.

Philadelphia Orchestra--''the instrument,'' as he calls it--is going from his musical perspective. He is serious, direct, honest, open. On this occasion he seemed particularly pleased when the visitor noted the leaner, more lithe and athletic sound the orchestra produced for Haydn and Beethoven.

Muti is fond of likening his orchestra to a fine old Stradivarius violin that takes on different qualities depending on which maestro, he or one of his guest conductors, is ''playing'' it. As much could be said of the majority of symphony-goers, board members and other orchestra supporters.

Subscriptions at the 3,seat Academy of Music ran about 94 percent of capacity last season, total--and to accommodate the growing demand for tickets, notably among young people, the orchestra will add two subscription series as of the season. Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer music critic, counts himself among the invigorated orchestra public and detects among the players ''what sounds like pleasure in playing music again.

During the season Muti will spend 16 weeks with his orchestra, including 12 weeks Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction subscription concerts, a week of domestic touring and a three-week tour of the major European music festivals in August and September, Muti also plans to give that amount of time--four months--to La Scala Opera next fall when he assumes his post as music director.

The rest of his time goes to Philadelphia.

In a list of ''Notable...

Besides, Milan is only a two-hour commute from the city of Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast, Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction he, his wife and three children make their home. Also, I drive very fast! It is the only home he owns. While in Philadelphia he resides in an apartment on the 26th floor of a building adjacent to the Academy of Music whose spartan decor scarcely reflects his Neapolitan temperament or his lifestyle.

spirit, scholarly integrity, marital gratitude...

The subject of Verdi brings to mind concert opera, which for the past several seasons Muti has made a biannual, and much anticipated, fixture of the Philadelphia Orchestra schedule. Like everything he conducts, these scores are painstakingly prepared and coached. Muti regards opera as essentially a symphony with voices, and he insists that his performers draw dramatic motivation from an understanding of the music. Before rehearsals began for ''Macbeth'' a few seasons ago, he had copies of the libretto sent to each orchestra member.

As Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction now the orchestra must share its facilities in the Academy with the local opera company, ballet and visiting attractions. Even 3, seats are not enough to accommodate all who wish to hear the orchestra. Then there is the question of sound, fine for opera but uncomfortably dry for symphonic music.

And it is this acoustical dryness that has sent Muti and the orchestra on a quixotic quest throughout the city for a suitable hall in which to make its recordings.

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Although a segment of the orchestra members, some board members and subscribers opposed the idea of abandoning their year-old home, Muti remains firm in his conviction that a modern hall is long overdue. Sixty years ago former music director Leopold Stokowski was Eugene ormandy wife sexual dysfunction for a new theater.

Latest word is that the orchestra management, headed by Stephen Sell, is firmly committed to the construction of a new hall, perhaps on property it recently leased a half-block from the Academy. The honeymoon is still there, but the effects of it are only coming out now.

There is no end to the search for perfection.

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