The six chief conductors
Mariss Jansons was welcomed as the orchestra’s sixth chief conductor in September 2004. He will leave his post at the end of the current season. With 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) and Riccardo Chailly (1988–2004).
Willem Mengelberg laid the foundation for the orchestra’s acclaimed Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum introduced Bruckner’s symphonies and French music. The Christmas Matinee concerts conducted by Bernard Haitink and 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 has 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.