By Claire Gordon •
Published: 22 Oct 2021 • 12:11
Image: BBC via Twitter
Renowned Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink has died at his home in London aged 92. His career spanned 65 years and in that time he led many of the world’s top orchestras. London, Chicago, Amsterdam and Dresden orchestras followed him at various points in his career.
Bernard Haitink was born in Amsterdam in 1929 and was extremely well known in the UK’s classical music scene. He was performing until 2019 and his last show in the UK was at The Proms in London. That was the 90th Prom in his career. Haitink’s first prom at the Royal Albert Hall was Bruckner’s 65-minute seventh symphony, and 53 years later he performed the same symphony there for the last time. Up until the very last performance, his style was described as ‘ravishing’.
His management company announced his death late on Thursday night, saying that one of the most celebrated conductors of his generation had died peacefully at his home. Haitink started his musical career as a violinist, as a child under Nazi occupation. He moved into conducting and got his big break with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Within six years he was asked to take charge of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw released a statement mourning the loss of its “beloved, honorary conductor”. He was conductor there for 27 years.
The Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard said Haitink’s “quiet authority and profound care and respect for his fellow artists inspired and moved beyond words”. He was famously known for his interpretation of Wagner while working at The ROH from 1987-2002.
Even the Dutch royal family felt moved to give a statement, saying that Haitink’s “drive and musical finesse are unforgettable.”
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