New York To Amsterdam

Dutch Conductors and their Influence at the New York Philharmonic. Supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

By New York Philharmonic

Willem Mengelberg (circa 1920)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Dutch Maestro Willem Mengelberg, New York Philharmonic music director from 1922-1930, began a special musical relationship between New York and Amsterdam, now almost a century long.

Page from Willem Mengelberg's New York Philharmonic contract (1931-02-23) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Hired ten years after Mahler's untimely death at the helm of the New York Philharmonic, Mengelberg continued the tradition of meticulous precision and perfectionism insisted on by his friend and colleague.

Gustav Mahler (standing, center) and Willem Mengelberg (standing, right) (1906-03) by Han de BooyOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Archvies

A Mahler champion in Amsterdam, Mengelberg inaugurated the Mahler Festival and frequently invited Mahler to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He introduced New York to Mahler's Third and Seventh symphonies.

Page from the score of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" marked by Willem Mengelberg (circa 1920s) by P. JurgensonOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Mengelberg's exacting score markings reflect his exhilarating performances. In addition to Mahler he was noted as a great Tchaikovsky interpreter.

Recording of Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture (1925) by Victor Talking Machine Co.Original Source: New York Philharmonic Archives

Willem Mengelberg and the New York Philharmonic perform Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture
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He led the New York Philharmonic's first electric recording, Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture, and was the first Philharmonic conductor with a substantial recording legacy.

Willem van Hoogstraten (1927-03)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Mengelberg's tenure overlapped with his compatriot Willem van Hoogstraten, a frequent Philharmonic guest conductor who soon took the reigns of the Philharmonic's annual low-cost summer season at the outdoor Lewisohn Stadium.

Willem van Hoogstraten, Adolph Lewisohn, and the New York Philharmonic (circa 1923) by Bain News ServiceOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Van Hoogstraten would lead the Stadium concerts long after Mengelberg's departure in over 400 performances through the late 1930s.

New York Times clipping (1954-10-14) by The New York TimesOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

While the special transatlantic relationship began with conductors, the New York Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra musicians finally met in person in 1954 when, on the RCO's first American tour, they shared a midnight train from New Haven back to New York.

New York Music Director Dimitri Mitropoulos welcomed Amsterdam Music Director Eduard van Beinum, forming a bond between the two ensembles that lasts to this day.

Portrait of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (1954)Original Source: New York Philharmonic

An RCO portrait signed by the musicians, commemorating their meeting in 1954. A New York equivalent was delivered to Amsterdam.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw (1968-09-20)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

The New York Philharmonic reciprocated the tour in September 1968 with a performance at the Concertgebouw led by Leonard Bernstein. The Philharmonic has since returned to Amsterdam on seven occasions.

Bernard Haitink (circa 1970)Original Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Meanwhile, the Dutch conducting tradition kept pace in New York. The New York Philharmonic has fostered long relationships with Bernard Haitink (32 performances beginning in 1975)...

Edo de Waart (circa 1980s) by Vivianne of RomaOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

...and Edo de Waart (20 performances, beginning with his 1964 appearance as winner of the Dimitri Mitropoulos International Music Competition where he was appointed assistant conductor to then Music Director Leonard Bernstein).

Jaap van ZwedenNew York Philharmonic

Maestro Jaap van Zweden made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2012 and was welcomed as Music Director in 2018, the second Dutch conductor to be appointed to the position.

Jaap van Zweden and Leonard Bernstein (1990)New York Philharmonic

Concertmaster of the RCO for sixteen years, Jaap van Zweden was introduced to conducting by Leonard Bernstein.

Jaap van Zweden and Louis Andriessen (2018-10-07) by Chris LeeOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic

In his first season as Music Director, Jaap van Zweden championed the music of Louis Andriessen, giving the contemporary music of his country a platform not seen before at the New York Philharmonic.

Jaap van Zweden Conducting Wagner's Die Walküre (excerpt) (2018-02-15) by New York PhilharmonicOriginal Source: New York Philharmonic Archives

The New York Philharmonic, led by Jaap van Zweden, looks forward to a long continued legacy of musical exchange with its Dutch colleagues.

Credits: Story

Created by the New York Philharmonic Archives:
Gabryel Smith, Director, Archives & Exhibitions; Bill Levay, Digital Archivist.

This exhibit is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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