Edo de Waart (born 1 June 1941, Amsterdam) is a Dutch conductor, He is the music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of 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. He concluded his Hong Kong tenure in 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 de Waart as an Artistic Partner with the orchestra for the 2010-11 season. In April 2010, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced the extension of de Waart's contract through the 2016-17 season. In the same month, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (deFilharmonie) announced de Waart's appointment as chief conductor for six seasons beginning in 2012. He formally began his chief conductorship of deFilharmonie in 2011, a year earlier than originally scheduled. In November 2014, deFilharmonie announced that de Waart's tenure as chief conductor would conclude after the 2015-2016 season. In February 2015, the Milwaukee Symphony announced the conclusion of de Waart's music directorship after the 2016-17 season, whereupon he will become conductor laureate.
De Waart has also been a frequent conductor of opera, making his first 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 had occupied since 1999. In giving his reason for leaving, de Waart mentioned his desire to spend time with his two small children. But in an interview with the newspaper Trouw he also mentioned his disagreement with DNO director Pierre Audi's conceptual staging of Lohengrin and Robert Wilson's planned Madame Butterfly, saying 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 four years, but in November 2008 the SFO announced that he 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.
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.
De Waart's recording catalog is extensive, encompassing recordings with such labels as Philips and orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.
In January 2001 de Waart was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal "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". He is a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
De Waart and his sixth wife, Rebecca Dopp, live in Middleton, Wisconsin, Dopp's hometown. They married in 1999 and have two children: a son, Sebastiaan, and a daughter, Olivia. The family used to live in Hong Kong but moved to accommodate Sebastiaan's asthma. De Waart is also the father of two children from his first marriage.
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