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Bernard Haitink conducting students

Bernard Haitink, 1929-2021

Friday 22 October 2021

The Royal College of Music community sends its deepest sympathies to the family of Bernard Haitink, who died yesterday aged 92.

Bernard Haitink was one of the most celebrated conductors of our time, and a close friend to the Royal College of Music. He visited the RCM many times, with memorable performances including Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony no 7, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.

Bernard Haitink was Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years, Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and held Musical Director positions at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera amongst other high-profile conducting roles. He was an honorary member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he performed his last concert in September 2019. Bernard Haitink received many awards and honours in recognition of his services to music. He was Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and Honorary Companion of Honour in the UK.

Professor Colin Lawson, Director of the Royal College of Music, said: 'all of us at the Royal College of Music are deeply saddened by the loss of Bernard Haitink, who paid regular visits over a long period and was a true inspiration to generations of students. He achieved astonishing musical results with minimal gesture, emanating a natural authority on the rostrum which defied any kind of explanation in mere words.'

The College’s Artistic Director, Stephen Johns, added: 'Bernard Haitink's visits to the RCM were regularly the highlight of students' careers at the College. His warmth, generous guidance, and exacting yet gentle encouragement, drew from our musicians performances of which they would not have considered themselves previously capable. He transformed their musical lives, the life of the College, and of all those who had the privilege here to know and work with him.'

We send our deepest sympathies to his family. His music will live on through his many recordings and the impact he made upon future generations of conductors and musicians.

The recording made in November 2016 of the RCM Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, conducted by Bernard Haitink, can be viewed on our YouTube channel.