Haitink, Bernard (Johann Herman)

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Haitink, Bernard (Johann Herman)

Haitink, Bernard (Johann Herman), eminent Dutch conductor; b. Amsterdam, March 4, 1929. He studied violin as a child, and later at the Amsterdam Cons., where he took a conducting course with Felix Hupka. He then played in the Radio Phil, in Hilversum. In 1954-55 he attended the conducting course of Ferdinand Leitner, sponsored by the Netherlands Radio. In 1955 he was appointed to the post of 2nd conductor of the Radio Phil, in Hilversum, becoming its principal conductor in 1957. In 1956 he made his first appearance as a guest conductor with the Concertgebouw Orch. of Amsterdam. He made his U.S. debut with the Los Angeles Phil, in 1958. In 1959 he conducted the Concertgebouw Orch. in England. In 1961 he became co-principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orch., sharing his duties with Eugen Jochum; that same year, he led it on a tour of the U.S., followed by one to Japan in 1962. In 1964 he became chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orch., a position he held with great distinction until 1988. In 1982 he led it on an acclaimed transcontinental tour of the U.S. In 1967 he also assumed the post of principal conductor and artistic adviser of the London Phil, later serving as its artistic director from 1969 to 1978. He made his first appearance at the Glynde-bourne Festival in 1972, and from 1978 to 1988 was its music director. In 1977 he made his Covent Garden debut in London conducting Don Giovanni. On March 29, 1982, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. conducting Fidelio. In 1987 he became music director of the Royal Opera House at London’s Covent Garden. On Dec. 1, 1999, Haitink conducted the gala performance at the reopening of the refurbished Royal Opera House. His tenure as its music director concluded in 2002. He also was guest conductor with the Berlin Phil., Vienna Phil., N.Y. Phil., Chicago Sym., Boston Sym., and Cleveland Orch. In his interpretations, Haitink avoids personal rhetoric, allowing the music to speak for itself. Yet he achieves eloquent and colorful effect; especially fine are his performances of the syms. of Bruckner and Mahler; equally congenial are his projections of the Classical repertoire. He has received numerous international honors, including the Netherlands’ Royal Order of Orange-Nassau (1969), the Medal ofHonor of the Bruckner Soc. of America (1970), and the Gustav Mahler Soc. Gold Medal (1971); he was named a Chevalier de lOrdre des Arts et des Lettres of France (1972). He received the rare distinction of being made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. In 1991 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize of the Netherlands.


S. Mundy, B. H.: A Working Life (London, 1987).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire