Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary

Asia's Tech News Daily

Bernard Haitink, who has died aged 92, was chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam for 25 years and music director of Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera; he was a consummate musician, a man of great humanity, stability and integrity whose insight into the minds of great European composers was on a par with his understanding of orchestral players.

Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary
© OLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images Bernard Haitink in 2019 conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London at a concert celebrating his 90th birthday – OLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

He was equally at home in the concert hall as in the opera house, though insisted that they each required a different state of mind. “I find myself very schizophrenic. When I’m in the concert hall I think ‘Why do I do all this opera business? I’m mad. This is the pure music-making.’ When I’m back in the pit, I love it. I’m so involved that I think ‘Why should I go back to the platform?’ ”

Haitink was one of the most compelling if understated of conductors. Yet he could stubborn, taciturn and even awkward. There was little negotiation, whether over the nuances of musical interpretation or the day-to-day running of an opera house or orchestra – no wonder, perhaps, that his relationship with both the Concertgebouw and the Royal Opera suffered from spectacular rifts.

Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary
© Provided by The Telegraph Haitink c. 1965 – Erich Auerbach/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At one time his conducting had been regarded as staid – London orchestral players of the 1960s nicknamed him “Boring Bernard” – yet increasingly Haitink deepened and intensified his conducting, with spare, economical and coaxing gestures. In the operas of Wagner and Verdi in particular he achieved a noble grandeur and blazing magniloquence.

It helped that he was the opposite of the superstar maestro. He detested the tyrannical methods of a Toscanini and once said that Herbert von Karajan was “an enormous talent, yet he had no judgment about human beings”. His own problem, he admitted, was how to retain humanity in a job that involved giving orders: “I hate to be nasty. Of course, I shouted when I was starting out or snarled like a young dog.” Typically, he once said that he never worked on fortissimi with an orchestra: “It’s always the pianissimi I concentrate on.”

He became a specialist in British music, recording the symphonies of Elgar and Vaughan Williams and having one of his greatest successes at the Royal Opera with Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage. Nevertheless, he was sometimes criticised for his lack of interest in avant-garde music and for preferring traditional to innovative opera productions. “Producers say they have to be original and I think ‘But why?’ ” he complained.

As if to prove the point he ventured outside his comfort zone by conducting Richard Jones and Nigel Lowery’s controversial 1994 staging of the Ring Cycle for Covent Garden, the preparations for which were shown in a BBC documentary. The dismay on Haitink’s face when he was shown Lowery’s designs was palpable and was accompanied by the plaintive remark: “We can’t ignore everything the composer wanted.”

Like the pianist Alfred Brendel, Haitink was often to be seen in the audience at concerts in which he was not a participant. “I still have the naivete to admire and to wonder,” he said. “When I hear the slow movement of Beethoven’s Archduke Trio and the transition to that strange finale, my heart opens. I hope that never leaves me”.

For him, music-making was a maturing process. In 1982, when he was 53, he said that he did not resent growing older. “I get a secret satisfaction from the fact that, with time, I’m acquiring more natural authority, more experience and the ability to delve deeper into works which, like all masterpieces, reveal their mysteries only very gradually, in layers, as you keep returning to them. And for that it is well worth losing one’s youth.”

Bernard Johan Herman Haitink was born in Amsterdam on March 4 1929. His father, Willem, was a railway administrator who became director of the Dutch electricity board; his half-Jewish mother, Anna, was secretary of the Alliance Française .

Young Bernard took up the violin aged nine, around the same time that he first saw Willem Mengelberg, conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra since 1895, in action. His mother’s ancestry remained undiscovered during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, but his father spent four months in a concentration camp after the protest bombing of a bookshop: he sent coded news of his survival in a letter by quoting the Prisoners’ Chorus from Beethoven’s opera Fidelio.

Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary
© Provided by The Telegraph Rehearsing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in 1972 – Donald Cooper/Alamy

After leaving school at 17, Bernard entered the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he studied conducting with Felix Hupka. He began his professional career as a violinist in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. In 1954 and 1955 he attended the conductors’ course organised by the Netherlands Radio Union under Ferdinand Leitner, who spotted Haitink’s potential – greater, he thought, for opera than for symphonies.

His lucky break came in October 1956 when Carlo Maria Giulini cancelled an appearance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Haitink stepped in, and it led to further engagements with the Concertgebouw and other European orchestras. He made his American debut in Los Angeles in 1958 and was engaged for a five-week season with the Concertgebouw in 1958-59, touring Britain with them in 1959 and making his British debut in Huddersfield.

He was appointed joint chief conductor (with Eugen Jochum) of the Concertgebouw in 1961 and became sole chief conductor in 1964, the year in which he first conducted the Berlin Philharmonic. Some of the older Dutch players gave the 35-year-old newcomer a rough time, but the improvement in the quality of the playing was widely noticed.

In 1962 he fulfilled a guest engagement with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and, in 1967, became its principal conductor in succession to John Pritchard, taking the orchestra on overseas tours and making recordings with them, including Beethoven and Shostakovich symphonies. The partnership ended in 1979 when Haitink’s choice for filling the vacancy of principal oboist was rejected in favour of a suggestion by Georg Solti.

Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary
© Provided by The Telegraph Rehearsing in 1970 – Erich Auerbach/Getty Images

Haitink had made his debut in opera at Glyndebourne in 1972, when he conducted a series of performances of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Glyndebourne, adept at picking winners, appointed him music director to work with its director of productions, Sir Peter Hall. “He comes to the majority of stage rehearsals – which most conductors don’t,” recalled Hall approvingly.

His tenure lasted until 1987 and among the operas he conducted memorably there were Mozart’s three Da Ponte operas (Don Giovanni, Figaro, Così). It was a measure of Glyndebourne’s respect for him that although no longer music director he was invited to conduct the opening production (Figaro) in the new theatre in 1994. The lesson he learnt there was that “if it is right on stage, then you can make music in the pit.”

Despite his growing commitment to opera, Haitink maintained his love for orchestral music and continued his work with the Concertgebouw. He recorded a second cycle of Mahler symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic, and some Bruckner, in which he excelled, with the Vienna Philharmonic. In 1986 his recording of Vaughan Williams’s Sinfonia Antartica won a Gramophone award.

However, his long association with the Concertgebouw– “it was my life, that orchestra” – ended acrimoniously in disagreements with management in 1988. He did not return to Amsterdam until 1995, when he conducted the Mahler Festival that marked the 75th anniversary of the first cycle of the composer’s symphonies given there by Mengelberg.

Bernard Haitink, revered conductor who had long and brilliant associations with the Concertgebouw, Glyndebourne and Covent Garden – obituary
© Provided by The Telegraph With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2013 – Todd Rosenberg

Meanwhile, Haitink had first conducted at Covent Garden in 1977, in Mozart. He was appointed music director in 1986 and walked straight into two crises: the soprano engaged to sing the title role in Yuri Lyubimov’s staging of Janácek’s Jenufa walked out after a row with the producer, and the Violetta in a revival of La Traviata was so unsuitable that Haitink sacked her. After the family atmosphere of Glyndebourne, Haitink found Covent Garden a trial. He did not get on with the general director Jeremy Isaacs, disliked the chairman Lord Sainsbury, and was uncomfortable with the high ticket prices.

Musically, however, he did well. Perhaps his biggest triumph was with Wagner’s Die Meistersinger in 1994, directed by Graham Vick. Haitink had been worried because “they told me he was experimental. So I said to him ‘Please give me a beautiful Meistersinger’ and he did.” It corresponded with Haitink’s ideal of Vermeer, “with his translucent textures and air and clear figures”. When the Royal Opera closed for refurbishment in July 1997, Haitink chose Die Meistersinger for the final performance; the ovation he received that evening left no doubt of how the audience regarded him.

Haitink remained optimistic about the future of the Royal Opera, although he was outspoken about the failure to find a permanent home during the closure, resigning and then withdrawing his resignation. “I get upset when people say the management is so bad. That is not true. It is the result of having a non-professional board who think they should be in charge. That is extremely dangerous.” Nevertheless, he remained with the company until 2002.

Across the Atlantic, in 1996 Haitink was appointed principal guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Although he had not enjoyed conducting opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (“like a factory”), he loved Boston and the players and the audiences loved him.

Asked many years ago where he belonged, Haitink replied: “I want to be buried in Holland.” But later he felt that his roots were in England. “I have changed,” he said in 1995, adding that he had taken to reading Jane Austen. “I love the English mentality. I feel much more at home than in my own country. Even if I did not work here, I would still live here”.

In his last two decades Haitink demonstrated that his thoughts about music were penetrating and profound. A tendency to understatement in his earlier years was now replaced by wisdom and incandescence. As he approached his tenth decade a Haitink appearance – notably at the Barbican with the LSO or in Royal Albert Hall at the Proms, where he appeared almost annually in the first two decades of the 21st century – came with the sense of being in the presence of a living legend.

Bernard Haitink, who was appointed honorary KBE in 1977 and honorary CH in 2002, told his life story to Simon Mundy in Bernard Haitink: A Working Life, published in 1987. He was married four times, latterly to Patricia Bloomfield, a barrister and former viola player at Covent Garden. He had two sons and three daughters from his first marriage.

Bernard Haitink, born March 4 1929, died October 21 2021

Sign up to the Front Page newsletter for free: Your essential guide to the day’s agenda from The Telegraph – direct to your inbox seven days a week.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Mum wows with her incredible meal prepping session for family-of-six - and you should see her fridge when she's finished

A mother has shared the incredible meal prep she curated for her large familyIn an attempt to keep her family's health in check Krystal started organising foodHer parents also wanted to join in on the efforts so she was feeding six peopleThere was a selection of breakfast options and entrees, followed by a lunch  Read more »

‘Lucky' author Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongly convicted of her rape

Novelist Alice Sebold, above, wrote the bestselling book “Lucky” based on her 1981 rape. Getty Images Novelist Alice Sebold has finally apologized to the innocent man who spent 16 years ... Read more »

Kourtney Kardashian addresses rumors she's pregnant with fiance Travis Barker's baby as she poses in tiny bikini

KOURTNEY Kardashian has finally hit back at fans after months of pregnancy speculation with a snappy comment alongside her recent bikini pics. The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star has ... Read more »

Accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell to return to the witness stand for cross-examination

Photograph: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters The first accuser in Ghislaine Maxwell’s child sex trafficking trial is set to return to the witness stand Wednesday morning at Manhattan federal court. This accuser, who ... Read more »

Why John Leguizamo Says He Has The Secret Sauce For The Super Mario Bros. Script - Exclusive

DFree/Shutterstock For a long time, there was a common wisdom when it came movie adaptations of video games — they’re bad! Movies based on “Double Dragon,” “Street Fighter,” and “Doom” ... Read more »

Universities could offer students fee refunds amid strike disruption – watchdog

Universities should consider offering partial tuition fee refunds to students if their learning has been affected by the latest wave of strikes, England’s higher education watchdog has said. Students and ... Read more »

Black Friday may be over, but John Lewis still has these mega tech deals up for grabs

Don’t miss out on these tech deals. (Getty Images) Yahoo Life’s editors are committed to independently selecting wonderful products at great prices for you. We may receive a share from ... Read more »

Stoke City defender Harry Souttar shares update on his road to recovery from injury

© Provided by Football League World harry souttar Stoke City defender Harry Souttar has revealed on Instagram that he has now had surgery on his knee injury. The 23-year-old is ... Read more »

49 US Parliamentarians bat in favour of documented dreamers

© Provided by The Times of India MUMBAI: A group of US Parliamentarians led by Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Senator Alex Padilla have submitted a bicameral comment letter requesting that ... Read more »

Ramesh Mendis and a tornado of wickets

© AFP/Getty Images Ramesh Mendis “just put the ball in the right place” © AFP/Getty Images Seven bowling innings, 21 Test wickets, and on a day in which the left-arm ... Read more »

IPL 2022: MS Dhoni's childhood coach says THIS on CSK retaining wicketkeeper-batter

© Provided by Zee News Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s childhood coach MP Singh lauded Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for retaining the wicket-keeper batter ... Read more »

Amazon Shoppers Say 'Nothing Sticks' to This Set of All-Clad Skillets—and It's 44% Off

© Amazon Hundreds of reviewers have given the set a five-star rating. © Provided by Food & Wine Amazon Although some of the biggest sales of the year are officially ... Read more »

Chris Streveler lands on Ravens' practice squad

The Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens basically made a quarterback swap. Last week, the Cardinals signed quarterback Trace McSorley from Baltimore’s practice squad to their active roster and released quarterback ... Read more »

Tennis legend tells US Open winner Emma Raducanu to 'enjoy every single moment'

Tennis legend Maria Sharapova has advised US Open winner Emma Raducanu to “enjoy every single moment” of her new-found success. © GiveMeSport Tennis legend Maria Sharapova has advised US Open ... Read more »

Real talk: USC is a lock to win Pac-12 South in 2022 under Lincoln Riley

USC still has one more football game to play this year, but we’re all looking ahead to 2022 at this point. The Trojans’ roster is only just beginning to be ... Read more »

UP PCS prelims 2021 result out at UPPSC portal, check now

The Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) has declared the UP PCS prelims 2021 result. The list of qualified candidates is available on the official website of the Commission, uppsc.up.nic.in. ... Read more »

NHRC seeks detailed report on patients who lost eyes to botched-up cataract surgeries in Muzaffarpur hospital

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of media reports of six patients in Bihar losing their ... Read more »

Suspension reduced to 1 game for Cowboys DT Trysten Hill

Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill will be rejoining the club sooner than expected. Earlier this week, the NFL announced a two-game suspension for the 23-year-old Central Florida product after cameras ... Read more »

Zendaya and Tom Holland Attend First Event Together Since Confirming Relationship, Show Some PDA

© Marc Piasecki/WireImage Stepping out and looking stunning! After Tom Holland recently confirmed his relationship with Zendaya, the two stepped out together for the Ballon D’Or, an annual soccer ceremony in Paris, ... Read more »

Falcons back to playing meaningful football in December

Playing meaningful football in December is something the Atlanta Falcons haven’t done since the 2017 season. Last year, the team started 0-5, fired head coach Dan Quinn, then had a ... Read more »

Wizkid wins Apple Music Artist of the Year ahead of record breaking London performance

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Fresh off headlining his second sold out show in a row at London’s The O2 arena, Wizkid has been named Apple Music’s Artist of ... Read more »

XPeng EV Sales Surge To Record 15,613 In November 2021

© InsideEVs Xpeng P7 All models have set their all-time monthly sales records. XPeng continues to amaze this year with outstanding growth rates, basically every month. In November, Xpeng set ... Read more »

Social care plans include repair service to help people live longer at home

The Government has announced a new repairs service to help older and disabled people live independently for longer in their own homes as part of key social care reforms. It ... Read more »

Neha Kakkar looks adorable as ever as she surprises hubby with a birthday cake and a cute dance; VIDEO

© Provided by Pinkvilla It’s Neha Kakkar’s husband Rohanpreet Singh‘s birthday and the couple can’t contain their happiness. Neha Kakkar married singer Rohanpreet Singh in 2020. The couple had a ... Read more »

NIO Electric Car Sales Reach New High In November 2021

© insideEvs.com Copyright from left: NIO ES6, ES8 and EC6 All the models note strong results – record or near record. NIO is back in the game after a slower ... Read more »

Soccer-Carrick has enjoyed his hasty challenge at Man United

(Reuters) – Michael Carrick has enjoyed the challenge of adapting quickly to being Manchester United’s interim manager and is willing to learn from Ralf Rangnick when he joins the club, ... Read more »

Yemen's racehorses battle starvation as war grinds on

© Reuters/KHALED ABDULLAH Jockey Hussain al-Qummali rides his horse Out Time at al-Asema Equestrian Club in Sanaa, Yemen By Abdulrahman Al-Ansi and Adel Al-Khader SANAA (Reuters) – In her prime, ... Read more »

Valimai: Ajith Kumar's second single titled 'Mother Song' out on Dec 5; Check out touching poster & promo

© Provided by Pinkvilla Ajith Kumar’s Valimai is one of the most awaited and highly anticipated films of the South. After the first, which was released in August, today the ... Read more »

Couple denied a mortgage because they forgot to pay BT phone bill five years ago

A couple almost lost their dream home after being declined for a mortgage because they forgot to pay a phone bill five years ago. Kerry Hepton, 34, and her partner ... Read more »

‘What UPA? No UPA Anymore': Is Mamata Looking At a New Opposition Block Minus the Congress?

© Provided by News18 ‘What UPA? No UPA Anymore’: Is Mamata Looking At a New Opposition Block Minus the Congress? A total disregard for the official national opposition umbrella, the ... Read more »

Discussing development ideas with states: NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said here on Wednesday that they have begun an engagement with all states to “develop together” by sharing ideas in the spirit of cooperative federalism. ... Read more »

Sino kina Martin Escudero, Paulo Avelino at Aljur Abrenica ang 'best actor' para kay Kris Bernal

kris bernal Para kay Kris Bernal, sino kaya kina Martin Escudero, Paulo Avelino at Aljur Abrenica ang sa tingin ay pinakamahusay na umarte? Sa “The Boobay and Tekla Show,” tila ... Read more »

NATO chief says Russia would pay 'high price' for Ukraine aggression

© Reuters/INTS KALNINS NATO Foreign Ministers summit in Riga LONDON (Reuters) – NATO’s secretary-general on Wednesday warned Russia against using force against neighbour Ukraine, and told Reuters that Moscow knows ... Read more »

SA-returned Dombivli man, 50, traced, tested for Covid; report awaited

© Provided by Hindustan Times A 50-year-old Dombivli man and his three family members have been tested for Covid following his return from South Africa on November 24. The man ... Read more »

Katy Perry rocks Elvis Presley-style jumpsuit in new Las Vegas concert teaser

Katy Perry IG Katy Perry rocked a white jumpsuit a la Elvis Presley in a teaser for her first Las Vegas residency. On Tuesday, the “Fireworks” singer shared a preview ... Read more »

‘I'm always looking for what's next, what's new' — Tommy Hilfiger on four decades of building a global mega-brand

“Tommy Hilfiger was so important growing up in Chicago, I used to go to the local mall and steal his clothes,” admitted celebrity stylist Law Roach, going off script at ... Read more »

KBC 13: Amitoj Singh makes host Amitabh Bachchan's mouth water as he names his favourite dishes

© Provided by Pinkvilla The kids’ special week of the show Kaun Banega Crorepati 13 is going on. The host Amitabh Bachchan is seen having a gala time as he ... Read more »

Jaishankar to address Indian Ocean Conference in UAE

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will address the fifth Indian Ocean Conference to be held in Abu Dhabi on December 4-5 besides the Sri Lankan president, Maldivian vice-president and the ... Read more »

Dwight Ramos misfires as Toyama misses out on Emperor's Cup quarterfinal

© Provided by SPIN.ph TOYAMA Grouses bowed out of the 97th Emperor’s Cup after taking a 70-58 defeat at the hands of Kawasaki Brave Thunders Wednesday at Kawasaki City Todoroki ... Read more »

Adidas unveil 2022 Champions League final ball - here's where to get it

We may be some way off the 2022 Champions League final in St Petersburg but preparations are already in place. Bookies make the usual suspects the favourites, but as we ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic