Bernard Haitink was born and trained in Amsterdam. His conducting career began at Netherlands Radio, where he took part in their intensive conductors course and became chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957. He went on to become chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years. He is now patron of the Radio Philharmonic and honorary conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
He was also music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He is an honorary member of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and in 2019 was made an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic.
During the 2018/19 season Bernard Haitink returned to the Chicago Symphony, the Royal Concertgebouw and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestras. The London Symphony Orchestra marked his 90th birthday in March with a series of concerts and he also conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Orchestra Mozart and the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, with whom he gave his first public concert in 1954.
Bernard Haitink has received many awards and honours in recognition of his services to music, including musician of the year from Musical America in 2007 and the Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been made a Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion and a Companion of Honour in the UK and has received honorary doctorates from Oxford University and the Royal College of Music.
After the 2018/19 season, during which he celebrates his 90th birthday and a 65 year conducting career, Bernard Haitink will take a sabbatical.