Dutch sources: Haitink ‘shafted’ the Concertgebouw

Contrary to the veteran conductor’s claim that the orchestra ‘humilated’ and ignored’ him during its 125th year and beyond, we understand that strenuous efforts were made to include the former music director in the 125th programme – not just by the orch management but by its present conductor Mariss Jansons, who reached out personally to Haitink on several occasions, to no avail.

Haitink relented to the point that he agreed to conduct Mahler 3rd with the Concertgebouw next season. A booking was made. However, a few days before the brochure went to print he notified the orchestra of his withdrawal.

The Dutch old master’s bocott is, say orchestra sources, totally without foundation.


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  • I have no idea of Maestro Haitink’s personal situation, but the man is 85 years old. We should bethink ourselves that we are witnessing a decision born, not of bad faith, but rather from the adversity of man’s seventh age. Certainly, I would be very hesitant to use words like “shafted” for an act that might be more charitably, if no less painfully explained. Can anything be harder for a great artist than to realize that he can no longer do even passably what he once did transcendentally well–for Haitink in his prime was second to none. I think we need look no further for an explanation. We should also recall with humility that the same pit gapes for us all, should we live so long.

    • Having just had recourse to Shakespeare, a doubt gnawing at my mind, I ought to have spoken of the sixth age of man, rather than the seventh. That corrected, the rest let stand.

  • Having passed the point of no return we should forgive mr Haitink his aberrations and be prepared to let him believe he is right even if he is not

  • Believe me, Haitink and the Concertgebouworchestra, this relationship has never been easy from the start on. This start was quite complicated: the former board of the orchestra did not trust him entirely as their new chief-conductor and placed (1961) a solid, experienced co-chief-conductor besides him: Eugen Jochum. From 1964 on (until 1988) he was allowed to act as the one and only chief-conductor. The smell of humiliation has, concerning BH, never entirely disapeared….

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