Edo de Waart

Edo de Waart

Edo de Waart in 2008
Background information
Born (1941-06-01) 1 June 1941
Occupation(s) Conductor

Edo de Waart (born 1 June 1941, Amsterdam) is a Dutch conductor. He is music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, an Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and music director of the New Zealand Symphony 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.

Orchestral conducting

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, and served in the post until 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".[1] In 2004, de Waart became artistic director and chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He concluded his Hong Kong tenure in 2012.[2]

On 3 January 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.[3] In April 2010, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced the extension of de Waart's contract through the 2016–17 season.[4] In the same month, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (deFilharmonie) announced de Waart's appointment as chief conductor for six seasons beginning in 2012.[5] 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.[6] In February 2015, the Milwaukee Symphony announced the conclusion of de Waart's music directorship after the 2016–17 season, whereupon he is to become conductor laureate.[7] In June 2015, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of de Waart as its next music director, with his first concerts in the role having taken place in March 2016.[8]


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, Santa Fe Opera named de Waart their chief conductor, effective 1 October 2007.[9][10] His initial contract was for four years, during which time he conducted the 2008 production of Billy Budd (opera).[11] But in November 2008, Santa Fe Opera announced that de Waart would step down 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.[12]


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.


De Waart (right) with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Anneliese Rothenberger, receiving the Dutch Edison music awards in 1969.

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.

Personal life

De Waart and his sixth wife, Rebecca Dopp, live in Maple Bluff, Wisconsin, near Dopp's hometown of Middleton. They married in 1999[13] and have two children: a son, Sebastiaan, and a daughter, Olivia. The family previously lived in Hong Kong but moved to accommodate Sebastiaan's asthma.[14] De Waart and his first wife, Noor Terweij, had two children, Boris and Marjolean. He was also formerly married to Roberta Alexander, Sheri Greenawald and Ruth Welting.[15][16]


  1. Carrick, Phil (July 1999). "Room to Develop". ABC Radio 24 Hours.
  2. "Edo de Waart steps down as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra after 2011/12 Season" (Press release). Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  3. "SPCO Announces New Artistic Partner Edo de Waart" (Press release). Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
  4. Elaine Schmidt (2 April 2010). "Milwaukee Symphony extends de Waart's reign through 2016–'17 season". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
  5. "Edo de Waart Chef-dirigent vanaf 2012/2013" (Press release). deFilharmonie. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  6. "Chef-dirigent Edo de Waart verlaat deFilharmonie na seizoen 2015/2016" (Press release). deFilharmonie. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  7. Jim Higgins (12 February 2015). "Milwaukee Symphony's Edo de Waart to step down after 2016–'17 season". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. "NZSO announces new Music Director Edo de Waart" (Press release). New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  9. Craig Smith (24 July 2007). "Dutch maestro takes over as chief conductor". The New Mexican. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
  10. Matthew Westphal (24 July 2007). "Santa Fe Opera Names Edo de Waart Chief Conductor". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
  11. Anthony Tommasini (2 August 2008). "Billy Budd the Jock, Beautiful and Agile". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  12. Craig Smith (7 November 2008). "De Waart out as Santa Fe Opera's chief conductor". The New Mexican. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  13. Peter Fray (8 June 2002). "Opus in the making keeps Edo away from the orchestra". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  14. Vivien Schweitzer (4 May 2007). "Edo de Waart, Music Director of Hong Kong Philharmonic, Moves Family From City Due to Pollution". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  15. Michele Hewitson (9 August 2014). "Michele Hewitson interview: Edo de Waart". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  16. Muna Shehadi Sill (19 April 2012). "International Man of Mystery". Milwaukee Magazine. Retrieved 29 June 2015.

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Jean Fournet
Principal Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
David Zinman
Preceded by
Sergiu Comissiona
Principal Conductor, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
Succeeded by
Jaap van Zweden
Preceded by
Hartmut Haenchen
Chief Conductor, De Nederlandse Opera
Succeeded by
Ingo Metzmacher
Preceded by
Kenneth Montgomery (interim music director)
Chief Conductor, Santa Fe Opera
Succeeded by
Frédéric Chaslin
Preceded by
Andreas Delfs
Music Director, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Pietari Inkinen
Music Director, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
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