A tribute to Bernard Haitink

Premiere 28 October 2021

A tribute to Bernard Haitink (1929-2021)

It was with great sadness that we learned of Bernard Haitink’s death in London on 21 October. Maestro Haitink was by far the greatest Dutch conductor of his generation. From 1961 to 1988, he stood at the Concertgebouworkest’s helm. He served as the orchestra’s honorary conductor from 1999, having led the orchestra on many other occasions, most recently in January 2019. Our thoughts are with his wife Patricia and his family.

We remember Bernard Haitink as a modest man and as a great musician. The musicians of the Concertgebouworkest have always had a deep affection for him because his approach to performance as a primus inter pares among them was always very intuitive, and he would often give them great scope and freedom.

As a tribute on behalf of the musicians, the Concertgebouworkes opens this concert with the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

400 Years after Sweelinck

Organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, composer, harpsichordist and teacher, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck died 400 years ago. Through his pupils, his influence would extend all the way to Johann Sebastian Bach. Accordingly, the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’ laid the foundation for the northern European Baroque tradition.

An impressive motet by Sweelinck is being performed in an arrangement for wind players of the Concertgebouworkest. By contrast, the work written for the orchestra by the Dutch composer Joey Roukens four hundred years later – a fantasy after Sweelinck – is brand new. How does a wildly successful composer whose engaging and inviting music, influenced by pop and film scores, look back on his early seventeenth-century compatriot?

The eighteenth century is represented by Haydn, whose brilliant Sinfonia concertante showcases no fewer than four soloists from the Concertgebouworkest’s own ranks. Mendelssohn composed his Fifth Symphony in 1830 to mark the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession, a key moment in the Reformation begun by Martin Luther. Oddly enough, this masterful work has always stood in the shadow of its predecessors and rightly deserves a wider audience.

400 Years after Sweelinck

Organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, composer, harpsichordist and teacher, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck died 400 years ago. Through his pupils, his influence would extend all the way to Johann Sebastian Bach. Accordingly, the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’ laid the foundation for the northern European Baroque tradition.

An impressive motet by Sweelinck is being performed in an arrangement for wind players of the Concertgebouworkest. By contrast, the work written for the orchestra by the Dutch composer Joey Roukens four hundred years later – a fantasy after Sweelinck – is brand new. How does a wildly successful composer whose engaging and inviting music, influenced by pop and film scores, look back on his early seventeenth-century compatriot?

The eighteenth century is represented by Haydn, whose brilliant Sinfonia concertante showcases no fewer than four soloists from the Concertgebouworkest’s own ranks. Mendelssohn composed his Fifth Symphony in 1830 to mark the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession, a key moment in the Reformation begun by Martin Luther. Oddly enough, this masterful work has always stood in the shadow of its predecessors and rightly deserves a wider audience.

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