Antal Dorati is back in town to begin his final series of concerts as the National Symphony Orcestra's music director. Next season he will return as principal guest conductor.During Dorati's winter absence in Europe, he received his 17th recording prize, the Grand Prize of the City of Paris, for his recording of the Haydn opera, "La Fedelta Premiata." Dorati, having recorded all the Haydn symphonies and piano concertos, and nearly all the miscellaneous instrumental works, is now in the process of recording all of the operas.

His NSO program for tonight and Wednesday, which he will repeat on Thursday in New York, is an all-Richard Strauss list: the Serenade for winds, Burleske for piano, the final scene from "Capriccio" and the tone poem "Ein Heldenleben." Ilse van Alpenheim will play the Burleske, Evelyn Lear will sing the opera scene.

Is there not a touch of irony in the fact that Evelyn Lear, who was singing in Washington 30 years ago, is only now making her National Symphony debut, having achieved world-wide fame in opera? What other young Washington musicians will have to wait that long to sing with their own orchestra?

Unusual events coming soon: The Mahler Eighth Symphony is an infrequent visitor to any city. It will be played and sung on Monday, March 7, at 8:30 p.m., in St. Matthews Cathedral. The performance will be by the Catholic University orchestra and chorus, augumented by choruses and choirs from this area and some distant points. Robert Ricks will conduct. The concert is free to the public.

At the same hour the Philadelphia Orchestra will be playing the Washington premiere of a major work by a Washington-born composer, David Amram. It is his "Trial of Beauty," for mezzosoprano and orchestra, a work based on folk lore and music of the American Indian.

Eugene Ormandy will follow the Amram with the Bruckner Fourth Symphony in the Kennedy Center series by the Philadelphians.

The first concert by "Shir Chadash," a newly formed consortium of singers and players, will be given on Sunday, March 6, at 8 p.m., in the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. Herman Berlinski is the musical director of the National Jewish Musical Art Foundation which has founded the new group. "Shir Chadash" will present sacred and secular Hebrew and Jewish musical literature, Sunday's program will include music by Salomone Rossi, Erich Itor Kahn, Paul Ben-Haim, and Kurt Weill, together with Berlinski's new cantata, "David's Harp," and others. Tickets for the concert are available through the JCC Music Dept., 881-0100.

Four young Japanese musicians will play in the Kennedy Center on March 3 in a benefit for the D.C. Chapter of the Multiple Scelerosis Society. Paul Williams will host the concert in which the young pianists and organists will play original compositions as well as other repertoire.

Musical instrument makers in this country are invited to submit instruments they have made for a national exhibition being organized by the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit will run from March 1978 to January 1979. For details, write: Musical Instrument Makers Exhibition, Division of Musical Instruments, National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560.

Young Israeli pianist Daniel Adni, who made his New York debut last week, plays his Washington debut on Wednesday, March 2, at 8 p.m., in the Jewish Community Center, Rockville, on the Youth Concerts Foundation series. Tickets at the door.