The last sight of Bernard Haitink

The last sight of Bernard Haitink


norman lebrecht

September 04, 2019

The Dutch conductor leaves the London stage after leading the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner’s 7th symphony at the BBC Proms last night.

Haitink, 90, has spent much of his working life in London as music director successively of the London Philharmonic, Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Chris Christodoulou’s picture captures perfectly his dignified departure.

photo: Christidoulou/BBC tel. 09796 157455




  • sam says:

    Is he conducting with a staff now, à la Jean-Baptiste Lully?

    • Sham says:

      Sam is ill-mannered. Awkwardly cracking the wrong joke on such a solemn occasion, giggling and sniggering at is own misplaced witticism.

    • 16VA says:

      This remark should be deleted, and its poster banned. Inexplicable how it ever passed Moderation. Do the decent thing, please, Norman?

      • Karl says:

        It was just a joke guys. What are you, snowflake millennials? Every little joke, no matter how slightly perceived as non-PC sets you off into a SJW rage. I’m sick of it. Go watch some South Park and chill out.

        • Edgar says:

          It was a joke, indeed. A sick one. Pierced its maker’s foot, like Lully’s staff…

          Meanwhile, all dignity remains solely Haitink’s.

      • all'ottava says:

        Because you’re too childish to handle a joke? Someone get this baby boy his milk and pacifier before he throws a hissy fit.

    • sam says:

      To those who are clamoring for NL to censor me, my comment garnered a 100 likes (and counting).

      Lighten up. I have no doubt Haitink has a way better sense of humor than you all.

      The man ain’t dead, he ain’t even retiring, he’s just taking a sabbatical. He’ll be conducting for another 10 years (at least).

      So I hope he does conduct with a staff one day. It’s way more dignified than a toothpick (Gergiev).

  • erich says:

    Having attended the final concert in Salzburg and listened again to the Prom broadcast, all I can do is salute possibly the very last of the truly great conductors. At the service of the music, not of himself. Immense knowledge worn gracefully, in utter humility.
    Deeply moving.

  • Classical Music Whisperer says:

    I always knew that I was in the presence of greatness the 2 or 3 times I was fortunate to hear him conduct. A titan of the podium.

    • Richard Craig says:

      i count myself very lucky to have been in the pressence of true greatness twice in my life Karajan and Haitink

      • guest says:

        Not even in the same league. He’s only considered great because the competition for great conductors these days is so dismal.

  • Kun says:

    Farewell to an era, what’s more to be said?

  • Stephen Gould says:

    Best conductor in my lifetime – it’s that simple.

  • Pedro says:

    The last sight in the concert platform will be in Lucerne next Friday and I will be there.

    I hope he will go on with his masterclasses.

    On the other side, as far as I know, Glyndebourne is not in London.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Unlike many other conductors, including the great names like Giulini, Klemperer, Bohm , Ormandy, Dorati, Maazel or even Bernstein(who was relatively young when he died), his performances have remained fresh and free from mannerisms in advanced age. Just like another great musician Alfred Brendel over a decade ago, Haitink have chosen to exit when he is still at the top of his game.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Kurt Sanderling also made his exit at 90, on a high note, and lived to 99. I am sure many readers on this blog wish Haitink a wonderful retirement, in good health, hopefully for at least another decade.

  • Karl says:

    I wish I could have been there. Was it sold out?

    • John Shepherd says:

      Packed to the hilt. Never have a witnessed an entire audience on its feet crying and cheering at the same time

    • Andrew Condon says:

      It was sold out within 90 minutes of the tickets becoming available though there seemed to be some empty seats in the gallery where I was. Unfortunately people were still being let in just as the Beethoven started.

  • 16VA says:

    Last of the titans.

  • Tonio says:

    Wonderful photograph which captures splendidly the poignancy of Mr Haitinks final exit from a UK stage. There will always be great conductors and he was of the very best. Haitink and the Concertgebouw was my first ever live concert. Mahler 5 in the Hull City Hall. It remains one of the finest I ever have seen. I will continue to treasure my many recordings with him at the helm. I hope a long and happy retirement awaits him.

  • rob says:

    His 1966 Concertgebouw Bruckner 7 is my desert island Bruckner 7. Hopefully these last Haitink concerts with the VPO will be released, hopefully also on Vinyl.

  • John PJ says:

    And thanks, BBC, for yet again ignoring one of the truly great proms. (Mackerras’s Patience was another woeful omission.) Presumably you couldn’t afford the VPO after paying your vacuous celebs far too much.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The last time I was at a concert with a conductor who needed the aid of a walking stick was several months before Harnoncourt died. It was the Musikverein in May the year before, and very moving it was.

  • Philippa Ballard says:

    I feel sorry for Murray Perahia who was supposed to have been part of this. He has now been cancelling a lot. Anybody have news of how he is ?

  • batonbaton says:

    Maestro, thank you for the music.