‘Yep, it’s Jaap.’ With those words, Alex Ross of The New Yorker announced the appointment of Jaap van Zweden as principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the beginning of 2016.
The Dutch conductor will officially assume the post in 2018, returning to the city where he went to study violin – at the Juilliard School of Music – at the age of sixteen. Three years later, he was appointed principal violinist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the youngest in its history.
He first took up a conductor’s baton at Leonard Bernstein’s request during an orchestra rehearsal, an encouragement for him to develop himself as a conductor. Van Zweden relinquished his post as principal violinist and retired his violin in 1997.
His first appointment as chief conductor was with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in the Dutch city of Enschede. He went on to hold the same position with the Residentie Orchestra in The Hague and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and was appointed music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a post he will relinquish in 2018.
Van Zweden has conducted all the leading US orchestras and was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in 2012. In Europe, he has led the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Van Zweden is also music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he is recording Wagner’s complete Ring cycle for Naxos.