Bernard Haitink, principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2010, will retire from the podium later this year, after farewell engagements this summer.
In an interview with the Dutch publication De Volksrant, the esteemed maestro announced that he will conduct his last concert this weekend in Amsterdam, the city where he started his career in 1954 and where he served as principal conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1961 to 1988. After his final Amsterdam concert on June 15 with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, he will lead concerts this summer with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Lucerne, the Vienna Philharmonic at the BBC Proms, and the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, and then will officially retire Sept. 6.
Regarded as one of the most significant maestros of the 20th and 21st centuries, Haitink last appeared in October with the CSO, in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with guest soloist Paul Lewis and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6. Of that program, Lawrence A. Johnson of the Chicago Classical Review wrote: “The performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 provided one of the most majestic and thrilling performances not only of this year but of recent years.”
In January, Haitink, who turned 90 in March, announced that he would be taking a sabbatical, but the Volksrant interview confirms that he has decided to retire. Asked about his plans, he answered: “Just live. My wife is very inventive in organizing things. And I am an avid reader.” But he seems to be closing a door: “To be honest: once I have stopped [conducting], I do not believe I can still do it,” he said in the Volksrant interview.
Among the other posts he has held over his 65-year career include principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, 1957-1961; music director, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, 1978-1988; music director, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1987-2002, and chief conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden, 2002-2004. An honorary member of the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, he also is conductor emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and honorary conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw.
TOP: Bernard Haitink leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program Oct. 25, 2018, featuring Beethoven and Bruckner. | ©Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018