Bernard Haitink

Laureate Erasmus Prize 1991

Theme: Music

The conductor Bernard Haitink was awarded the Erasmus Prize for his major contribution to preserving cultural heritage through his interpretations of the classical, traditional repertoire of European music. His interpretations of the symphonic and opera repertoire express intensity and passion combined with great integrity. He shows respect for both the musical score and the unique character of the orchestra. This integrity is also evident in his deliberate lack of flamboyance. He never places himself between the orchestra and the audience. His recordings of the symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner are artistic masterpieces.

Bernard Haitink was born in Amsterdam in 1929. He studied violin and orchestral conducting. In 1959 he became conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; from 1961 to 1988 he was its chief conductor, and in 1999 he was appointed honorary conductor. At the same time, from 1967 to 1979 he conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra. After years of association with the Glyndebourne Opera, he accepted the position of musical director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1987, which he held until 2002. After that he was associated with the Staatskapelle Dresden and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Haitink was also a guest conductor for many major orchestras, including the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony Orchestra. Haitink is an honorary member of the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He was chosen by Musical America as ‘Musician of the Year’ in 2007, and was conferred as a Commander in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands in 2017.