Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) is the best-known and most respected symphony orchestra of the Netherlands, and is generally considered to be among the world's finest orchestras. It is named for the Concertgebouw (concert hall) in Amsterdam from which it is based. Its "Royal" title was conferred upon the orchestra in 1988 by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

The Concertgebouw opened on April 11, 1888. The Concertgebouw Orchestra, however, was not founded until a little later. It gave its first concert in the Concertgebouw on November 3, 1888 under the principal conductor for its first seven years, Willem Kes.

In 1895, Willem Mengelberg became chief conductor and remained in this position with the organization for fifty years, an unusually long tenure for a music director.[1] He is generally regarded as having brought the orchestra to a level of major international significance, with a particular championing of such then-contemporary composers as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss.

For approximately its first 75 years, the Concertgebouw Orchestra had a somewhat complicated roster of conductors. In addition to the chief conductor, the orchestra had conductor positions titled "eerste dirigent" ("first conductor"), who assisted the chief conductor with programming, and "tweede dirigent" ("second conductor"), who did "what he was told."[2] During Mengelberg's time as chief conductor, several of these first conductors included Karl Muck (1921-1925), Pierre Monteux (1924-1934), Bruno Walter (1934-1939), and Eugen Jochum (1941-1943). Musicians who served as "second conductor" included the composer Cornelis Dopper, Evert Cornelis and Eduard van Beinum.

In 1945, because of the controversy over his relationship with the Nazi occupying forces during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, Mengelberg was removed as chief conductor and subsequently banned from conducting. The ban was initially imposed for the remainder of his life, but after an appeal, reduced to six years, applied retroactively from 1945. Mengelberg died in 1951 just before the end of his sentence, thus never conducting the orchestra after 1945.

From 1945 to 1959, the orchestra's principal conductor was Eduard van Beinum, who had debuted with the orchestra in 1929. He had become the second conductor of the orchestra in 1931, and co-principal conductor in 1938. One of his specialties was the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, and Van Beinum made commercial recordings with the orchestra of Bruckner's Eighth and Ninth Symphonies for the Philips Records. Van Beinum served as sole chief conductor of the orchestra after World War II until his sudden death on the Concertgebouw podium from a fatal heart attack in April 1959.

Bernard Haitink made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra on November 7, 1956. After van Beinum's death, Haitink became the orchestra's first conductor in September 1959. From 1961 to 1963, Haitink and Eugen Jochum shared the post of chief conductor of the orchestra.[3] Haitink became sole chief conductor in 1963, and served in this post until 1988. At some point during Haitink's time, the conductor system was simplified to have an assistant conductor instead of first- and second-conductors. Conductors who served in this capacity included Edo de Waart and Hans Vonk. The recording profile of the orchestra increased most dramatically under Haitink, with many recordings for the Philips Records, as well as EMI and Columbia Records. In 1999, Haitink was named Conductor Laureate.

Riccardo Chailly made his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1985, and was elected that year as their next chief conductor to succeed Haitink.[4] As the first non-Dutchman to hold the post, Chailly served as chief conductor from 1988 to 2004. His recordings with the orchestra include a complete Mahler symphony cycle, several of the Bruckner symphonies, shorter works of Shostakovich, the complete Kammermusiken of Paul Hindemith, and the orchestral works of Edgard Varese. After his departure in 2004, Chailly was named Conductor Emeritus of the KCO.

The Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons made his KCO debut in 1988 and was elected chief conductor on 22 October 2002.[5][6] His tenure officially began on 1 September 2004, and his initial contract was for 3 years. As of September 2007, the further duration of Jansons' contract as chief conductor is not publicly referenced, although he is still listed as the KCO's chief conductor for the 2007-2008 season.

The orchestra enjoyed a close relationship with Gustav Mahler and championed many of his symphonies, with an especially worthy festival of his music being the 1920 Mahler Festival.[7] Other conductors who worked closely with the Concertgebouw Orchestra included George Szell and Kiril Kondrashin, who was the Permanent Guest Conductor from 1978 to 1981. More recently, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was named Honorary Guest Conductor of the KCO in 2000.

Another factor in creating the orchestra's distinct character is that the Concertgebouw Orchestra has had only six chief conductors, setting it apart from orchestras of similar age and caliber. With what has been described as its ‘velvet’ strings, the ‘golden’ brass sound and the exceptional timbre of the woodwinds, sometimes described as ‘typically Dutch’, the Concertgebouw Orchestra has won itself a place amongst the small, select group of top world orchestras.[8] The nearly one thousand recordings that the orchestra has to its credit have also contributed to this reputation. The orchestra also serves as one of the opera orchestras for productions at De Nederlandse Opera.

Past artistic directors of the Concertgebouw Orchestra have included Rudolf Mengelberg, Marius Flothuis (1955-1974), and Peter Ruzicka. Currently, the executive director of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is Jan Willem Loot. The present head of artistic administration for the orchestra is Joel Ethan Fried.

Recently, the KCO has begun to issue CDs on its own label, RCO Live, as conducted by Jansons and Haitink.[9]

Chief Conductors

References

1. ^ Other long tenures at major orchestras include Evgeny Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Ernest Ansermet at the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Robert Kajanus at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and Eugene Ormandy at the Philadelphia Orchestra.
2. ^ Wisse, Kees, notes to Q-Disc Issue "Eduard Van Beinum: The Radio Recordings", Q-Disc (translated Lodewijk Odé, Ko Kooman and Chris Gordon).
3. ^ Hussey, Dyneley, "The Musician's Gramophone" (May 1960). The Musical Times, 101 (1407): 303.
4. ^ John O'Mahony. "Maestro in the fast lane", The Guardian, 9 March 2002. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. 
5. ^ Martin Cullingford. "Jansons confirmed as Royal Concertgebouw head", Gramophone, 17 Oct 2002. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. 
6. ^ Guido van Oorschot. "Mariss Jansons to Succeed Riccardo Chailly at the Concertgebouw Orchestra", Andante magazine, 16 Oct 2002. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. 
7. ^ Adrian Boult. "Mahler Festival in Amsterdam", The Daily Telegraph, 22 May 1920. 
8. ^ Jessica Duchen. "Dutch courage", The Guardian, 17 Sep 1999. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. 
9. ^ Andrew Clements. "Bruckner: Symphony no 8, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/ Haitink", The Guardian, 5 Aug 2005. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. 

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orchestra is an instrumental ensemble, usually fairly large with string, brass, woodwind sections, and possibly a percussion section as well. The term orchestra derives from the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus.
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The Concertgebouw is a concert hall in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Dutch term "concertgebouw" literally translates into English as "concert building". Because of its highly regarded acoustics, the Concertgebouw is considered one of the three finest concert halls in the world,
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queen regnant (plural "queens regnant") is a female monarch possessing and exercising all of the monarchal powers of a king, in contrast with a queen 'consort', who is the wife of a reigning king, and in and of herself has no official powers of state.
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    Beatrix (born January 31, 1938 as Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Princess of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld) has been the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since April 30, 1980.
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    Willem Kes (February 16, 1856 – February 22, 1934), was a Dutch conductor and violinist.

    He was the first principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, holding that position from 1888 to 1895.
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    Joseph Willem Mengelberg (28 March 1871 – 22 March 1951) was a Dutch conductor.

    Biography

    Mengelberg was born fourth of sixteen children to German born parents in Utrecht, Netherlands. He studied in the Cologne conservatory, including piano and composition.
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    Gustav Mahler (July 7, 1860 – May 18, 1911) was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and conductor.

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    Karl Muck (October 22, 1859 – March 3, 1940) was a German conductor, known for his autocratic but powerful approach to music. He is considered the greatest interpreter of the work of Richard Wagner.

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    Pierre Monteux (April 4, 1875 – July 1, 1964) was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, rue de la Grange Batelière. Monteux later became an American citizen.
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    Bruno Walter Schlesinger (September 15, 1876 – February 17, 1962) was a German-born conductor and composer. He was born in Berlin, but moved to several countries between 1933 and 1939, finally settling in the United States in 1939.
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    Eugen Jochum (November 1, 1902 – March 26, 1987) was an eminent German conductor.

    Born in Babenhausen, near Augsburg, Germany, Jochum studied the piano and organ in Augsburg until 1922.[1] He then studied conducting in Munich.
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    Cornelis ['Kees'] Dopper (February 7 1870–September 191939) was a Dutch composer, conductor and teacher.

    Life

    Born in the northern Dutch town of Stadskanaal, he came to study at the Leipzig conservatory with, among others, Carl Reinecke.
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    Eduard van Beinum (September 3, 1900, – April 13, 1959, Amsterdam) was a Dutch conductor.

    Biography

    Beinum was born in Arnhem, Netherlands where he received his first violin and piano lessons at an early age, and joined the Arnhem Orchestra as violinist in 1918.
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    Motto
    "Je maintiendrai"   (French)
    "Ik zal handhaven"   (Dutch)
    "I shall stand fast"1

    Anthem
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    Eduard van Beinum (September 3, 1900, – April 13, 1959, Amsterdam) was a Dutch conductor.

    Biography

    Beinum was born in Arnhem, Netherlands where he received his first violin and piano lessons at an early age, and joined the Arnhem Orchestra as violinist in 1918.
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    Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known primarily for his symphonies, masses, and motets. His symphonies are often considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex
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    Philips Records is a record label that was founded by Dutch electronics giant Philips. It was started as Philips Phonographische Industries (PPI) in 1950. During much of the 1950s, it served to distribute recordings made by the US Columbia Records and Columbia Masterworks Records
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    Bernard Johan Herman Haitink CH KBE (b. March 4, 1929) is a Dutch conductor and violinist.

    Biography

    Haitink was born in Amsterdam, the son of Willem Haitink and Anna Haitink.[1] He studied music at the conservatoire in Amsterdam.
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    Eugen Jochum (November 1, 1902 – March 26, 1987) was an eminent German conductor.

    Born in Babenhausen, near Augsburg, Germany, Jochum studied the piano and organ in Augsburg until 1922.[1] He then studied conducting in Munich.
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