Jaap van Zweden Conducts Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Britten

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Jaap van Zweden

Jaap van Zweden Conducts Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Britten

Jaap van Zweden Conducts Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Britten

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Conductor

Jaap van Zweden

Jaap van Zweden began his tenure as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2018. He also serves as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012, and has appeared as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras around the globe, including the Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2019–20 season, Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic in seven World Premieres and symphonic cornerstones. He presides over Project 19, marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment with commissions by 19 women composers; hotspots festival, spotlighting Berlin, Reykjavík, and New York as new-music centers; and Mahler’s New York, examining the composer / conductor who spent time in New York as the Philharmonic’s tenth Music Director. During the 2020 European tour, he and the Orchestra will open the Concertgebouw’s Mahler Festival as the first American orchestra in the festival’s history. Other highlights include a new production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle; his first Young People’s Concert; and the low-cost Phil the Hall. He also guest conducts the Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Jaap van Zweden’s most recent recording is of the World Premiere performance of Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth, continuing the Philharmonic’s partnership with Decca Gold. He conducted the first-ever performances in Hong Kong of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which have been recorded and released on Naxos, and his performance of Parsifal earned him the prestigious Edison Award for Best Opera Recording in 2012.

Born in Amsterdam, Jaap van Zweden was appointed at age 19 as the youngest-ever concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He began his conducting career almost 20 years later, in 1996. He remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he was Chief Conductor (2005–13), served as Chief Conductor of the Royal Flanders Orchestra (2008–11), and was Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2008–18), where he is now Conductor Laureate. Jaap van Zweden was named Musical America’s 2012 Conductor of the Year and was the subject of a 60 Minutes profile on CBS in 2018.

In 1997 Jaap van Zweden and his wife, Aaltje, established the Papageno Foundation to support families of children with autism. Today, the Foundation focuses on the development of children and young adults with autism by providing in-home music therapy; developing funding opportunities for autism programs; operating the Papageno House, where young adults with autism live, work, and participate in the community; and creating a research center in the Papageno House for early diagnosis and treatment of autism and analyzing the effects of music therapy on autism. Most recently, the Foundation launched the app TEAMPapageno, which allows children with autism to communicate with each other through music composition.

Learn more about Jaap van Zweden

Selections from Romeo and Juliet

Symphony No. 5

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Sinfonia da Requiem

BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913–76)
Sinfonia da Requiem (1940)

The pacifist composer Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da requiem packs a powerful punch, driving home its unstated but unmistakable anti-war message. The three linked movements of this “requiem symphony” carry the Latin names of sections of the Mass for the Dead (requiem). Desolate, fearful drum beats punctuate the first movement Lacrymosa — like so many soldiers marching off to war. Britten himself characterized the Dies irae (Day of Wrath/Last Judgment) movement as a crazed, terrifying “Dance of Death” that ends quietly. The finale, Requiem aeternam (Eternal rest), is normally the place in a requiem where the living entreat the deity for eternal rest for the departed; but Britten’s ending leaves us hanging — uneasy about the future. The Japanese government had invited Britten to compose a work for the 2600th anniversary of the Mikado’s dynasty, but the work presented to Japanese officials caused a diplomatic disaster — what with its Christian liturgical movement titles and non-celebratory character. The Sinfonia da requiem was never performed at the Japanese festivities, and Britten ultimately dedicated the work to his parents as a memorial. The New York Philharmonic performed the premiere in 1941.

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