Breaking: Bernard Haitink suffers severe fall

Breaking: Bernard Haitink suffers severe fall


norman lebrecht

June 09, 2018

We hear that Bernard Haitink suffered a very heavy fall at last night’s concert in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He’d just conducted a miving performance of Mahler 9.

Whilst taking his second ovation Haitink, 89, tripped and fell face down. He took a few minutes to get up (with help) and looked stunned but aware of what was going on.

This was the second of three concerts.

Haitink before the concert.

UPDATE: The Concertgebouw has issued this statement:

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is relieved to inform everyone that our honorary conductor Bernard Haitink is doing well under the circumstances. After tonight’s concert in the Concertgebouw, during applause, he fell while on stage. He is now recovering in his hotel. This of course gave us all quite a scare. We thank you all for your concern!

2nd UPDATE: Haitink cancels Sunday concert


  • Pedro says:

    I hope he recovers completely. He is the best conductor in the world. My wife and myself have tickets for tomorrow’s matinée concert and friends from London are joining us.

  • Rob says:

    Bernard’s Mahler 9 is the best there is right now. Nobody can touch him. Hope he takes time to chill out.

  • Sue says:

    Damaging – and embarrassing. These events in the elderly, as we all know, are potentially life threatening. Recover well, Maestro Haitink.

  • Alex Leach says:

    I always think those steps are a bit of a danger, especially to older conductors – I hope Mr Haitink doesn’t climb them each time he takes an ovation?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Those stairs are a miscalculation by hte architect Van Gent, someone not understanding the practicalities of concert life. But he did design an excellent hall in a faintly Dutch 17C classicist style – unfortunately gravely violated by a modernist extension (they cannot keep their fingers off such buildings).

      • Henk Rentenaar says:

        Maestro Haitink does not use the long stairway to the stage anymore. He uses the short stairs beside the stage.

      • Rich C. says:

        Saw a concert there a few years ago by Maris Jansens, he must have been about 70 then, and after the the first ovation he only walked halfway up the stairs before he came back down for the second ovation. Really strange set up there at the Concertgebouw. A floor-level side stage-door should be used all the time.

    • Bruce says:

      It doesn’t say he fell on the stairs?

      • Geoff says:

        No, he was walking to the side of the orchestra near the basses (he doesn’t even risk the side steps for the ovations) and tripped in the violins.

  • MacroV says:

    It doesn’t say whether he fell on the stairs, but I’d hope that the Concertgebouw would devise an alternative entrance for older/more frail performers, at least. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I believe there are stage-level entrances that the players use.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Any fall of an octogenarian is scary. I don’t understand what is so severe about this particular one. Was it a severe fall or yet another eye catching headline?

    • Geoff says:

      I was in the hall and I had just looked away for a moment but heard the very loud crash above the cheering and apppause as he fell. I think anyone who saw it heard it would have been very concerned.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    OMG. Get well soon, maestro.

    The hall is a wonder. That frigging stairway to heaven is a menace. Should have been sorted years ago 🙁

  • Mario Lutz says:

    For those worry about the steps that soloist and conductors must take to coming into the stage.
    Bernard Haitink doesn’t use those red carpeted stairs, since many years (Lorin Maazel avoided them too) he goes to the pit using a shorter stairway at the right side of the stage,
    you can check this here and in his entrance to this concert

  • Patrick Gillot says:

    Get well soon Maestro Haitink. We need you!

  • barry guerrero says:

    Indeed, we all hope the best for Bernard Haitink.

  • Bylle Binder says:

    These stars look even to me (and I’m just 57) rather dangerous.

    I hope Maestro Haitink will feel better soon!

  • Martin says:

    Haitink and some other artists use the short flight of stairs at auditorium stage right rather than the long flight from the back of stage. From ground floor level there is an artist lift was goes directly to the conductor’s room on the first floor.

  • Bylle Binder says:

    Not “stars”, but “stairs”. Sorry

  • Pedro says:

    I hope Bernard Haitink recovers completely. He is for me the best conductor in the world. His Mahler 9 in Berlin last December was the best I have heard live since Karajan in 1982 ( Vienna and Salzburg ).

    My wife and myself have tickets for today’s concert in Amsterdam where we will be joined by London friends. Let’s pray…

  • Been Here Before says:

    This was a very disheartening news, but the update made me feel a little bit better. Let us all hope this was just a scare and nothing more.

    Maestro Haitink is one of the greatest living conductors and certainly my personal favorite. Over the years, I have heard him leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra many times – and he was always performing at the highest levels. I never understood why he was not given a permanent directorship instead of Levine.

    Most recently, I heard him at Barbican Centre in London conducting Brucker’s Te Deum and Symphony No. 9 with the London Symphony Orchestra. The performance was profound and deeply touching. I could notice that he was moving slightly slower than when I last saw him, however, when he got to the podium he was as energetic as ever.

    Wishing Maestro Haitink a good recovery and a lot of rest. May he be healthy for many more years and keep on sharing the joy of music with the rest of us!

  • Caravaggio says:

    So very sorry to learn this piece of news. Any kind of fall at such an advanced age is reason for concern. Here is to a speedy and full recovery.

  • Gerard says:

    It has just been announced that Haitink will not conduct the matinee performance..he will be replaced by assistent Kerem Hasan

  • Geoff says:

    He’s cancelled today’s appearance, not surprisingly.

    The orchestra says:

    “Kerem Hasan replaces Bernard Haitink
    This afternoon you will visit a concert of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Unfortunately, our honorary conductor Bernard Haitink informed us he is not able to conduct this afternoon. Kerem Hasan, assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink, takes over today’s concert.

    During the applause after Friday’s concert, Bernard Haitink fell on the stage for which he now needs to take his rest. He is doing well under the circumstances.

    The programme, Mahlers Ninth Symphony, remains unchanged.“

  • Robert van der Toorn says:

    I was there at friday and today i sell my ticket after the cancellation of Haitink. I have the feeling that he did fall down becouse of to much tired after the 2 x Mahler 9 ! i think Haitink needs from now on a pause day between the concerts ! And complete sit durring conducting , not stay anymore.

  • Richard Craig says:

    I have been lucky enough to have been at several concerts conducted by Mr Haitink and was very impressed each time,i wish him a speedy recovery

  • Lisbeth Moeller says:

    It seems Haitink didn’t fall on the steps, but on a level difference of an inch at the lift that brings the instruments up on stage.
    Why hasn’t that been fixed???
    Seems the management has poor judgement: lighting for millions, but not a safe “working” environment.
    If the management has up to date risk assessment this would not have happened. Also what if a musician falls and an instrument gets squashed?