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Edo de Waart

Edo de Waart (born June 1, 1941) is a prominent Dutch orchestral conductor. He conducts both orchestral as well as operatic music and is particularly well-known as an orchestra builder (he has turned a number of second-string orchestras into top-notch ensembles).

De Waart studied oboe, piano and conducting at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, graduating in 1962. The following year, he was appointed associate principal oboe of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1964, at the age of 23, he 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 Concertgebouworkest 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 Orchestra in 1975; a year later he became principal guest conductor, and from 1977 to 1985 he was its music director. From 1986 to 1995, he was chief conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.

In 1989, the peripatetic De Waart returned to the Netherlands where he was appointed music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he still holds.

Since 1995, De Waart has been chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a position he is leaving in 2004.

De Waart has been a guest conductor with the major orchestras throughout the world including the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

An avid promotor of contemporary music. De Waart led premičres of works by Adams, Reich (whose Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards and opera Nixon in China he has recorded) and others in San Francisco.

De Waart has also been a frequent conductor of opera. He made his début at the Santa Fe Opera in 1971, 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 recent seasons, he has conducted a new production of Der Rosenkavalier for Opera de Bastille, The Magic Flute and Figaro for the Metropolitan Opera and Katya Kabanová, Werther, Peter Grimes, Makropolous Affair, Madame Butterfly, Fidelio, Les Troyens in Amsterdam. Other recent productions include Boris Godunov for Geneva Opera, 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.

In March, 2002, De Waart announced his premature 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."

Edo de Waart's recording catalogue is extensive, encompassing recordings with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony and San Francisco Symphony.

De Waart has been appointed artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, beginning in 2004. He said in a recent interview that he finds working with young orchestras in locales such as Hong Kong refreshing because he is not burdened by the weight of tradition. Standing on the podium of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, De Waart feels the hot breath on his shoulders of Mahler and Strauss and other greats who have conducted there.