Bernard Haitink CH KBE, 1929-2021

We pay tribute to the acclaimed Dutch conductor who was Glyndebourne’s Music Director from 1978-1988

We are very sad to hear that Bernard Haitink has died.

The acclaimed Dutch conductor was Glyndebourne’s Music Director from 1978-1988, and his work shaped the musical identity and legacy of the Festival.

‘We were incredibly fortunate to have Bernard here over a period of 22 years’ says Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s Executive Chairman, ‘I particularly remember his wonderful interpretations of the Peter Hall Mozart operas in the 80s, a golden age in our history! As my dad said in 1988, his last year as Music Director here, “he was a man of total sincerity, formidable ability and prodigious achievement.”‘

Below you can read more about Bernard Haitink’s career at Glyndebourne, alongside images from our archive collection.

Bernard Haitink at Glyndebourne

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, 1972 – the first production Haitink conducted at Glyndebourne.
Guy Gravett / Glyndebourne Productions Ltd.

Bernard Haitink first conducted at Glyndebourne in 1972, helming that year’s Festival production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

In 1975 he conducted the premiere of one of Glyndebourne’s most enduring productions – The Rake’s Progress, which was produced by John Cox and designed by David Hockney. He also conducted the revivals in 1977, 1978 and 1980. The production has never left the Glyndebourne repertoire, and is making a much anticipated return this autumn.

Photo: Bernard Haitink, David Hockney, John Cox and Rosalind Elias in rehearsals for The Rake’s Progress, 1975.
Guy Gravett / Glyndebourne Productions Ltd.

In 1978 Haitink was appointed as Glyndebourne’s Music Director. He held the post for a decade, during which time he oversaw a host of acclaimed and influential productions including the Erté designed Der Rosenkavalier (1980) and Albert Herring (1985).

In 1981 he conducted the debut of another lasting Glyndebourne classic, Peter Hall’s magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream (last staged in 2016).

Photo: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1981. Guy Gravett / Glyndebourne Productions Ltd.

1988 saw his 11th and final season as Music Director, and he moved on to take up the same post at the Royal Opera House. By this point Haitink was one of the world’s most respected and sought after conductors. He made a very welcome return to Glyndebourne in the 1990s to conduct productions of Capriccio (1990), and Le nozze di Figaro, which opened the new opera house in 1994.

Sir George Christie and Bernard Haitink at Glyndebourne in 1986.
Guy Gravett / Glyndebourne Productions Ltd.

You can read more about Bernard Haitink’s life and career here:

Askonas Holt obituary

BBC News obituary

The Telegraph obituary

The Guardian obituary

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