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Jaap van Zweden receives Concertgebouw Prize

‘The sound of The Concertgebouw has defined my life.’

8 March 2023 – The Concertgebouw Prize will be presented to conductor Jaap van Zweden on 18 April. This award recognises his exceptional contribution to the artistic profile of the Concertgebouw. Moreover, conductor Jaap van Zweden joins an illustrious company that includes conductor Bernard Haitink, baritone Thomas Hampson, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Jaap van Zweden about the Concertgebouw

Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden’s life is closely linked to the Concertgebouw, where he was appointed the youngest ever concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra at the age of nineteen. From that moment on, he always relished in the concert hall’s acoustics:

‘The Concertgebouw is like my second home. The sound of the Concertgebouw has defined my life. This is where I grew up, as a violinist and as a conductor.'

Even as Jaap van Zweden's career took off and he conducted all over the world ‒ from Hong Kong to New York, and from Chicago to Berlin ‒ the ‘golden sound’ of the Amsterdam venue always stayed with him:

‘The Concertgebouw is my frame of reference against which I compare every concert hall in the world. The sound, the atmosphere, the history: this is a unique place in the world that the Netherlands should cherish.’

Jaap van Zweden conducts Wagner at The Concertgebouw.

‘One of the most celebrated conductors of his generation’

Simon Reinink, managing director of the Concertgebouw, speaking about the presentation of the Concertgebouw Prize: ‘Jaap van Zweden has been intimately associated with the Concertgebouw since his youth. As an Amsterdam child, he played there on several occasions. He won the Oskar Back Concours here in 1977, was concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from the age of nineteen and later also performed here as the conductor of various orchestras. As chief conductor of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, he gave numerous unforgettable performances. The concertante Wagner operas are still dear to the hearts of music lovers. Van Zweden is now one of the most internationally in-demand conductors of his generation.’

Jaap van Zweden

Since the 2018-2019 season, Jaap van Zweden has been music director of the New York Philharmonic. This position brought the Amsterdam native back to the city where he studied violin as a sixteen-year-old at the Juilliard School of Music. He first played in the Concertgebouw’s Recital Hall when he was nine. In 1996, Jaap van Zweden exchanged his bow for the baton. Among other things, he became chief conductor and artistic director of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

Twan Huys interviewde Jaap van Zweden voor College Tour in Het Concertgebouw.

After his appointment as chief conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2008 ‒ a position he held until 2018 ‒ his career took off internationally. He has been guest conductor of such prestigious orchestras as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Vienna Philharmonic as well as our own Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 2012, he was appointed chief conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2024, Jaap van Zweden’s tenure conducting the New York Philharmonic will end and he will become chief-conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic in South Korea.

Wynton Marsalis’ honorary mention in the Concertgebouw.

Concertgebouw Prize

The Concertgebouw Prize, which will be presented for the thirteenth time at a gala dinner in our Main Hall, is an initiative of the management and boards of the Concertgebouw and the Concertgebouw Fund. The prize is for musicians who have contributed to the artistic profile of the Concertgebouw over an extended period of time. Previous laureates have included Cecilia Bartoli (2004), the Beaux Arts Trio (2006), Bernard Haitink (2007), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (2009), Maurizio Pollini (2010) , Thomas Hampson (2011), Janine Jansen (2013), Yo-Yo Ma (2014), Sir John Eliot Gardiner (2016) , the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir (2017), the Hagen Quartet (2019) and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (2021). Originally, Jaap van Zweden was to receive this prize in 2020 on the eve of the Mahler Festival. After the cancellation of that event, there is now a new opportunity for the award ceremony.

This prestigious acknowledgement consists of a work of art and a permanent mention of the laureate on the honorary tableau opposite the soloist staircase of the Main Hall.