Jaap Van Zweden: I had Covid and I lost 30 kilos

Jaap Van Zweden: I had Covid and I lost 30 kilos


norman lebrecht

February 23, 2021

In an unusually revealing interview with a friendly Antwerp newspaper, the New York and Hong Kong Philharmonic music director says he had Covid and it was not too bad: ‘I’ve had covid. In November. The symptoms were not too bad. I had a cold and in the evening I suffered from shivering. That was it.’

So the weight loss?

I woke up one morning and saw myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw. My big belly. I decided there and then to work on my body. In six months I lost 30 kilograms. I trained like crazy. I thought, why can’t I apply the discipline I show for the music to my body? I even follow boxing training now. ‘

Read on here.



  • RW2013 says:

    Does he know that Deborah will be phoning the luminous Lithuanian?

    • sam says:

      The NY Phil can’t pay enough to lure the luminous Lithuanian away from Europe:

      -America’s classical scene is dead, as Covid abundantly made clear, too financially marooned, too culturally estranged, from both government and public consciousness
      – NY Phil is a vipers nest, even Rattle, the ultimate classical music schmoozer, was careful never to set foot on its podium, as so many others have passed, from Muti to Salonen

      • John Borstlap says:

        Greatly exaggerated & based upon mere rumours sent into the world by New Yorkers who find classical music not modern enough, not sufficiently in line with their sky scrapers. The NY Phil is not ‘more troubled’ than any other symphony orchestra.

        The only symphony orchestra in the entire Western world which is perfectly happy with itself, where the players are happy with their job and with each other, totally satisfied with their salary and work load, and entirely at peace with the programming, is the Ibbenbühren Philharmonisches Orchester in W-Germany. But they have only 10 concerts p/year on which they only play Beethoven V, two times entirely, before and after the break, and without conductor because they have played it before.

        All other orchestras survive through fanatic improvisation and persistently battling obstacles.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      You know, for all the appreciation that N.Y.’s current conductors receive, probably both van Zweden and Nezet-Seguin should just walk away. See who get then.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Good for him! There are quite a few conductors younger than he who could stand to lose quite a few kilos. I won’t mention any names, but they’re all male. Even today, a chubby, overweight female wouldn’t get hired.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Thank you for posting this. Very thoughtful interview, not the usual platitudes.
    Van Zweden deserves enormous credit for creating the Papageno Foundation for autistic people. In doing so he helped not only his son, but also many others.
    One can only look up to Van Zweden and ignore the nasty and uninformed comments he is subjected to by third parties.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Entirely agreed upon. He also donated half a million to the NY Phil, and had the courage to program an ‘offensively non-modernist’ piece with his orchestras in Dallas and Hong Kong.

      • Rearkiss says:

        Does jvz pay you per post or hourly?

        • Wise Guy says:

          Do tell us about YOUR grand accomplishments in music. Would help give us a perspective. Have any major orchestras played YOUR works or have you played with any such groups?

        • John Borstlap says:

          It is rather difficult to sort-out specific cheques from the financial diarrhoea that’s coming-in daily here.


      • Peter San Diego says:

        Indeed. I’d like to hear “Feierliche Abendmusik”! The snippets in the conversation about the work on youtube are tantalizing.

  • They wave tiny sticks. says:

    How much does the New York Philharmonic weigh?

  • Good on the weight loss. He was beginning to acquire rather Brahmsian proportions… also similar to someone you’d find clerking an all-night pawn shop.

  • Bill says:

    Naturally, the headline is intended to cause people to think the 30 kg weight loss had some connection to having a bout with the virus. I’m pretty sure that it would be difficult to find a famous conductor these days who does not regularly look in a mirror! Let’s not confuse correlation and causality here.

  • sabrinensis says:

    Bottom story of the day.

  • Jean-Pierre says:

    Maybe now he will elicit a lighter and leaner sound from the orchestra.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      That’s more likely to happen if the players can hear each other better in the once again, ‘yet refurbished, “whatever it’s being called today”‘ symphony hall (In a decade, maybe it’ll be the T-Mobile Hall, or the Herb Alpert East Coast Hall).

  • AmateurBoxer says:

    It is nice he had all this time for the treadmill while his American music director colleagues were in Vienna, Salzburg and Berlin working or supporting their hometown orchestras with more than a check.
    I’m sure he looks amazing though.

    • Tamino says:

      as if it was his fault that the orchestra in New York can’t do a thing indoors… also I imagine him not having US citizenship might create a few hurdles these days considering his presence in NY.
      But always nice to have an alien scape goat for one’s domestic problems, always works for the gullible folks, doesn’t it?

  • Wise Guy says:

    Jaap van Sweden is the biggest loser! (kgs)