The six chief conductors
With the effect from the 2016/17 season, Daniele Gatti will be chief conductor of the RCO.
Serving before him in that capacity were Willem Kes (chief conductor from 1888 to 1895), Willem Mengelberg (1895–1945), Eduard van Beinum (1945–1959), Bernard Haitink (1963–1988), Riccardo Chailly (1988–2004) and Mariss Jansons (2004-2015).
Willem Mengelberg laid the foundation for the orchestra’s acclaimed Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum introduced Bruckner’s symphonies and French music.
Bernard Haitink refined the orchestra sound and broadened the repertoire. His recordings and the Christmas Matinee concerts televised in many European countries earned him wide acclaim. Haitink was appointed honorary conductor in 1999.
Conductor emeritus since 2004, Riccardo Chailly provided a great impetus to the programming of contemporary music and opera.
Under the direction of Mariss Jansons, the orchestra consistently focused on composers such as Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss and Brahms, as well as important twentieth-century composers like Shostakovich and Messiaen, to whom large-scale thematic projects have been devoted. In his first season as chief conductor, Daniele Gatti adds an emphasis on composers such as Debussy, Strawinsky, Ravel and the Second Viennese School.