“I think that overemphasising things will kill the real sentiment. Music becomes distorted and doesn’t speak the way I think it should speak.” These are the words of the Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink, who was revered in the music world for his modest demeanour, the seriousness and the accuracy of his interpretations, void of all superficial effects. The Berliner Philharmoniker appointed Bernard Haitink an honorary member in 2004.
Haitink, who initially trained as a violinist, took on leadership responsibilities with orchestras in his home country at an early age. Between 1961 and 1988, he shaped the legendary Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam as its chief conductor, and was also appointed to leadership positions in London, Boston, Chicago and Dresden. Before he decided at the turn of the millennium to concentrate exclusively on the symphonic repertoire, he enjoyed success as an opera conductor, especially in England and for a good decade each led the Glyndebourne Festival and London's Royal Opera House. After his debut in 1964, Bernard Haitink conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker in more than 200 concerts, not only in Berlin but also on tour and at festivals. The music of Gustav Mahler was programmed on a regular basis. The conductor and the orchestra performed his complete symphonies and also recorded them, with the exception of the Eighth. In addition, they placed significant focus on the works of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner.