Dutch maestro Bernard Haitink, one of the most famous conductors, died “peacefully” in his London home on the evening of Thursday 21 October at the age of 92. The announcement of the disappearance was made today by his agent. Haitink has led the best orchestras in the world in London, Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago and Dresden over a career spanning 65 years. Born in Amsterdam on 4 March 1929, Haitink has won many awards and has been an important figure in the UK classical music scene for over half a century. Even in his final months on the podium, his performances with the London Symphony Orchestra were described as “enchanting.” Achieved in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Haitink has held prestigious positions as musical director: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (1961-88 ); London Philharmonic Orchestra (1967-79); Glyndebourne Opera Festival (1978-88); Royal Opera House Covent Garden (1987-2002); Boston Symphony Orchestra (1995-2004, now conductor emeritus); Dresden Staatskapelle (2002-04); Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2006-2010). He conducted the European Union Youth Orchestra from 1994 to 2000 and recorded more than 450 recordings.Haitink studied music at the conservatory in his hometown of Amsterdam and began his career as a violinist before starting conducting courses under the guidance of Ferdinand Leitner in 1954. In 1955 he was appointed second conductor of the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra (Radio Filharmonisch Orkest) in Hilversum, later becoming its principal conductor (1957-63). His debut with a large orchestra took place on 7 November 1956 at the head of the highest Dutch musical institution, the Royal Orchestra of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, replacing the indisposed Carlo Maria Giulini. Haitink became principal conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1961, remaining at the top for 27 consecutive years, and becoming famous for his interpretations of Mahler and Bruckner.Haitink was an honorary member of the Berliner Philharmoniker and has been principal guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1995 to 2004, when he was awarded the title of director emeritus. As a guest conductor he has also worked with the Orchester National de France, the Wiener Philharmonikers and the Bavarian Radio Symphony. In 2007 Musical America named Haitink ‘Musician of the Year’ During his long career Haitink has conducted in concert and recorded on record (mainly for Decca and Philips Classic) a very large repertoire including all of Ludwig van’s symphonies. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Dmitri Shostakovich, all the concerts by Beethoven and Brahms with Claudio Arrau at the piano and L’anello del Nibelungo (Der Ring des Nibelungen) by Richard Wagner. (By Paolo Martini)
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