Music world commemorates Haitink: ‘He turned his uncertainty into great deeds’

Both Haffmans and Kieft reflect on the successes Haitink had with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He led it as chief conductor between 1961 and 1988. But they also emphasize the difficult time he sometimes had there and the struggle he had with the management.

Kieft: “He was in his early thirties when he got there, maybe he was even a little bit naive. He didn’t quite know how to adopt an attitude as chief conductor. He has suffered the necessary scars there and they are never fully healed.”

Haffmans: “He really had to conquer the orchestra. The orchestra said about him: ‘he doesn’t know anything yet, but he is a real conductor’. They really let themselves be won over by him, and that bond has become very warm.”

Violinist Henk Rubingh experienced Haitink for a long time with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. “You could say that his simplicity allowed him to come up with the most beautiful and profound interpretations. You have conductors who are incredibly sweating, but he understood – perhaps also because he got older – the art of working with very calm and minute gestures to get what he wanted. The orchestra hung from his baton.”

Difficult patient

It was often said about Haitink that he could be difficult, Kieft also acknowledges. “He called himself a difficult patient, he also knew that about himself. He was sometimes easy to unbalance. But he was not really seen that way by the musicians.”

Rubingh: “What also characterized him was that he gave us as much confidence as possible. People felt very supported and appreciated.”

According to Kieft, he could be especially difficult for the people around the orchestra, such as the Concertgebouw management. He once had a fight with the then orchestra director Piet Heuwekemeijer, who wanted the Concertgebouw Orchestra to also play chamber music in smaller compositions. Haitink disagreed. He eventually drew the longest straw and Heuwekemeijer resigned.


In a short response on Twitter, the Concertgebouw says it is mourning their “beloved conductor”. “He was one of the chefs who remained with us for a very long period. And during that period he was able to leave a huge mark on our orchestra,” says director David Bazen. “He has been instrumental to our playing culture and the development of our repertoire.”

Bazen also praises Haitink’s bond with the audience. He says that in the coming days it will be looked at how appropriate attention can be given to the death. In any case, there will be a concert in his honor.

Music world commemorates Haitink: ‘He turned his uncertainty into great deeds’
Source link Music world commemorates Haitink: ‘He turned his uncertainty into great deeds’

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