Bernard Haitink 1929–2021

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is saddened to learn of the death of conductor Bernard Haitink on 21 October 2021. As the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor from 1967–79, Haitink presided over some of its most memorable and exciting years, and was much loved by musicians and audiences alike. He enjoyed a relationship with the Orchestra that spanned over five decades: one of the greatest partnerships in London’s musical history.

 

Haitink first conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in November 1962 in a programme of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Bruckner at the Royal Festival Hall. In 1970 he was the first conductor to take the Orchestra on tour to the USA, performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall and across the Eastern states, and in 1975 he conducted the Orchestra in eight concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, hailed as unqualified triumphs. As Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival from 1978–88 he continued his fruitful relationship with the LPO, cementing its reputation as a leading opera orchestra and building on its successes there as Resident Orchestra since 1964.

A prolific recording artist, Haitink made over 450 recordings, many of them with the LPO including the Mendelssohn and Beethoven symphony cycles, the Stravinsky ballets, the Beethoven piano concertos with Alfred Brendel, and operas by Mozart and Stravinsky, among many more. Among the composers with whom he was particularly associated were Bruckner and Mahler, whose symphonies featured frequently in the LPO's concerts during his tenure, as did those of Shostakovich, particularly the Tenth: in 2008 the Orchestra released on its own label a live recording of the work from the 1986 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

Haitink’s final concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra was on 15 December 2002, when he conducted a memorable performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 – the ‘Resurrection’ – with the London Philharmonic Choir at the Royal Festival Hall.

Martin Höhmann, President of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, said: ‘The LPO was privileged to enjoy such a long and remarkable relationship with Bernard Haitink, one of the greatest conductors of our time. He will be fondly remembered as one of the LPO’s best-loved Principal Conductors, with whom the Orchestra achieved some of the greatest successes in its history. For those of us lucky enough to have worked with him, we will cherish those memories forever. We send our condolences to his wife Patricia and his family.’