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Artist Hyperion Records
Haitink, Bernard (conductor)
© Kevin Leighton

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

With an international conducting career that spanned over 60 years, Bernard Haitink is considered to have been one of the most celebrated conductors of his generation.

Born in 1929 in Amsterdam, Haitink studied the violin and conducting at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, later studying with the German conductor Ferdinand Leitner. His first concert conducting the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra (later the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest) in 1954 led to roles as the orchestra’s second conductor and, in 1957, its Chief Conductor. In 1956, he made his debut with the Concertgebouworkest, and became its Principal Conductor in 1961, a position he held until 1988. During his tenure his substantial recording output with the orchestra included Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky symphony cycles, as well as works by Strauss, Shostakovich, Ravel, Debussy, Brahms, Beethoven and Bartók.

Bernard Haitink also held posts as Principal Conductor or Music Director with: the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1967-1979); Glyndebourne Festival Opera (1978-1988); Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1987-2002); Staatskapelle Dresden (2002-2004); and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2006-2010). He was Conductor Laureate of the Concertgebouworkest and Conductor Emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (having been Principal Guest Conductor from 1995 to 2004), and performed regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker, and Berliner Philharmoniker (who made him an honorary member in 2004).

Despite his reputation as a Mahler and Bruckner specialist, Bernard Haitink’s extensive recording legacy encompasses a large variety of symphonic repertoire, recorded with some of the world’s greatest orchestras. His recordings of the complete Brahms and Beethoven symphonies, as well as discs of Bruckner and Strauss, for the London Symphony Orchestra’s own label, LSO Live, garnered numerous accolades, with the complete Beethoven cycle being named the 'Benchmark Beethoven Cycle' by BBC Music Magazine and earning a nomination for Best Classical Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards. He was awarded a Grammy for Best Opera Recording in 2003 for Janáček’s Jenůfa with the Royal Opera, and for Best Orchestral Performance of 2008 for Shostakovich’s Symphony No 4 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Bernard Haitink was awarded a number of state honours, including ‘Chevalier’ of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 1972); honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (UK, 1977); Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium, 1977); Honorary medal for Arts and Science of the Order of the House of Orange (Netherlands, 2000); honorary Companion of Honour (UK, 2002); and Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands, 2017). He conducted his final concert in Lucerne on 6 September 2019, with the Wiener Philharmoniker, and died on 21 October 2021 at his home in London.


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