Obituary: legendary conductor Bernard Haitink dies at 92


On October 21, 2021, conductor Bernard Haitink passed away at the age of 92.

The driver passed away peacefully at home with his wife and family.

Born in Amsterdam, Haitink was the son of Willem Haitink, a civil servant who would become director of the Amsterdam Electricity Council, and Anna Clara Verschaffelt, who worked for the Alliance Française.

He then studied violin and conducting with Felix Hupka at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, then took conducting lessons with Ferdinand Leitner from 1954 to 1955.

In 1954 he made his conductor’s debut with the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra and became the second conductor in 1955. In 1957 he became the principal conductor of the orchestra and in 1956 he made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, replacing Carlo Maria Giulini. . In 1959, he was appointed first conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and became principal conductor in 1961.

He will begin a long relationship with the orchestra by recording numerous albums for Philips, Decca and EMI Classics. Haitink remained with the orchestra for 27 years until 1988 and 1999, he was appointed honorary conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The conductor was also an advocate for his musicians and in December 2012, following his advocacy for the RFO following the proposed budget cuts for the orchestra and Dutch music in general, Haitink accepted the title of patron. of the RFO.

Haitink was also principal conductor of the London Philharmonic from 1967 to 1979 and musical director of the Glyndebourne Opera from 1978 to 1988.

At the Royal Opera House he was appointed Music Director from 1987 to 2002. He also served as conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden from 2002 to 2004, when he resigned following disputes with the manager. de la Staatskapelle, Gerd Uecker, on the choice of orchestra. successor. Haitink was also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2004.

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Haitink served as principal conductor from 2006 to 2010 and concluded his work with the orchestra with a series of concerts of Beethoven’s complete symphonies.

Throughout his career, Haitink has also been invited to conduct the Orchester National de France, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysée, among others.

Towards the end of his career, Haitink conducted master classes in orchestral conducting for young conductors in Lucerne and in June 2015, the European Union Youth Orchestra announced the appointment of Haitink in as a winning chef.

His last concerts were performed alongside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic from 2018 to 2019.

Haitink has received numerous awards throughout his career, including Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and Officer of the Order of the Crown, among others. He also won the Grammy Award, the Gramophone Award and the Echo Klassik.

Haitink has also made over 450 recordings, including works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich and Vaughan Williams. He has also recorded the three operas by Mozart / Da Ponte and the complete cycle of operas by Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen. He has also published a book “Dirigieren ist ein Rätsel. “

The conductor is survived by his five children and his wife Patricia Bloomfield.

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