Edo de Waart (born 1 June 1941, Amsterdam) is a Dutch conductor, and the Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and an Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
De Waart studied oboe, piano and conducting at the Sweelinck Conservatory, graduating in 1962. The following year, he was appointed associate principal oboe of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
In 1964, at the age of 23, de Waart won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York. As part of his prize, he served for one year as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic. On his return to the Netherlands, he was appointed assistant conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink.
In 1967, he was appointed conductor of both the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and was the latter's music director from 1973 to 1979.
De Waart made his début at the San Francisco Symphony in 1975. A year later, he became principal guest conductor, and from 1977 to 1985 he was music director. From 1986 to 1995, he was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra.
In 1989, de Waart returned to the Netherlands, where he was appointed music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. He resigned from the post in 2004 and now he is the orchestra's conductor laureate.
De Waart became chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1993. In early 1999, after two successful terms with the orchestra, including taking it on a very well-received tour of the United States, he announced he would be leaving by the end of the year. The orchestra's management was fully engaged in the process of finding his replacement when de Waart changed his mind. He left the post in 2003. While in Sydney, de Waart made no secret of his dislike of the acoustics of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, the orchestra's home, saying, "if there is no clear intention to do something to improve the hall, then we really seriously have to look at another venue".
In 2004, de Waart became artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In November 2007, de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic agreed on a contract extension of his tenure to 2012.
On January 3, 2008, de Waart was named the sixth music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and he assumed the post in September 2009. In March 2008, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announced that de Waart was scheduled to become an Artistic Partner with the orchestra in the 2010-11 season.
De Waart has been a guest conductor with major orchestras throughout the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
On March 10, 2010, de Waart announced he would step down from the post of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Hong Kong Philharmonic after the 2011-12 season. A few weeks after that, on April 2, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced that de Waart had received a contract extension with that organization through the 2016-17 season. Also in April 2010, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (deFilharmonie) announced de Waart had signed a contract to become its Chief Conductor for six seasons beginning in 2012.
De Waart has also been a frequent conductor of opera. De Waart made his first conducting appearance at the Santa Fe Opera (SFO) in 1971, in a production of The Flying Dutchman.
He debuted at the Houston Grand Opera in 1975, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1976, and the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1979. From 1970, he conducted the DNO frequently. In 1980, he directed a Ring cycle at the San Francisco Opera.
In March 2002, de Waart announced his departure in 2004 as chief conductor of the Netherlands Opera (DNO), a position he filled since 1999. In giving his reason for leaving, de Waart mentioned his desire to spend time with his two small children. However, de Waart also mentioned in an interview with the newspaper Trouw his disagreement with the conceptual staging of Lohengrin by DNO director Pierre Audi and the planned Madame Butterfly of Robert Wilson. De Waart said he missed "humanity" and "emotion in the direction."
In July 2007, the Santa Fe Opera named de Waart their chief conductor, effective 1 October 2007. His initial contract was for 4 years. However, in November 2008, SFO announced that de Waart would vacate the position before the end of his contract, no earlier than the end of the 2009 season. de Waart cited health and family reasons for this decision.
In recent seasons, he has conducted a new production of Der Rosenkavalier for Opéra Bastille, The Magic Flute and Figaro for the Metropolitan Opera and Katya Kabanová, Werther, Peter Grimes, The Makropulos Affair, Madama Butterfly, Fidelio, Les Troyens in Amsterdam. Other recent productions include Boris Godunov for the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Figaro for the Salzburg Festival and Beatrice et Benedict for Santa Fe Opera. In Sydney, he led concert performances of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle, a project which started in 1995 and culminated in performances of Götterdämmerung as part of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival. He also conducted opera-in-concert performances of Richard Strauss' Salome and Elektra with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, to critical acclaim.
An avid promoter of contemporary music, de Waart led premieres of works by John Adams, whose opera Nixon in China he has recorded; Steve Reich, whose Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards he has recorded; and others in San Francisco. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Symphony No. 2 is dedicated to him.
Edo de Waart's recording catalogue is extensive, encompassing recordings with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.
Edo de Waart was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in 2001, "for service to Australian society and the advancement of music".
In May 2005, he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, "for service to Australia, particularly as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra".
Moreover, he is a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
De Waart maintains two residences, an apartment in Hong Kong and a house in Middleton, Wisconsin, the hometown of his (sixth) wife, Rebecca Dopp, whom he married in 1999. De Waart and Dopp have two children: a son, Sebastiaan, and a daughter, Olivia. The family left Hong Kong to accommodate their son's asthma.