Bernard Haitink Named Musician of the Year
By Susan Elliott
December 21, 2006
NEW YORK -- The Musical America International Directory of the
Performing Arts announced its annual awards last night, naming
Dutch conductor and recently appointed Chicago Symphony Principal
Conductor Bernard Haitink as Musician of the Year.
'I don't exactly climb into jets easily,' Haitink joked as he
accepted the award at a reception at Lincoln Center, 'but when
they told me I had to be here or not get the award, vanity told
me I had to be here.'
Haitink, 77, is among the field's most distinguished conductors;
his recent exploration of the complete Beethoven Symphony cycle
with the London Symphony, both in performance and on recording
for LSO Live, has garnered high praise. He is also closely
allied with the Boston Symphony, and served as its principal
guest conductor from 1995 to 2004. Other affiliations include
Covent Garden and a long tenure as music director of the
Concertgebouw. Haitink has made hundreds of orchestral
and opera recordings with major international ensembles.
Vocalist of the Year Barbara Cook's comments were both poignant
and gracious, expressing her deep appreciation for being 'honored
by the classical community.' She related how Stephen Sondheim
had recently (and so accurately) said to her, 'You have a love
affair with each song you sing. You use the kind of care with a
song that you would with a new lover.'
In his tribute article, Stephen Holden wrote of Cook's 'vital
music career that continues to defy gravity as she enters her
Kennedy Center CEO Michael Kaiser, who followed Cook in accepting
his award for Impresario of the Year, said that he had 'joined
the profession because of Barbara Cook.' As a child, he related,
his parents - who were in attendance at the reception -- had
taken him to see 'The Music Man' with Cook in the principal role
of Marian the Librarian. He was captivated, he said.
In his five years in the job, Kaiser has brought financial
stability to the Center and, according to Tim Page in his article,
'transformed the programming, and Washington is a more diverse,
fertile, and altogether more interesting place for the arts than
it has ever been.'
William Bolcom, whom Mark Swed in his tribute article identified
as 'an eclectic's eclectic, a composer with something for everyone'
and 'a storied master of many musics,' was named Composer of the
Year, with Musical America Editor Sedgwick Clark pointing out
that Bolcom was currently at work on his fourth opera and eighth
symphony, both of which will be premiered in 2008, the year of
his 70th birthday.
Clark described Instrumentalist of the Year Pierre-Laurent Aimard
as possessing 'ear-opening artistry.' The French pianist garnered
attention initially as a specialist in new music, but has since
gone on to broaden his repertoire as well as his international
audience. This season sees him in residence at both Carnegie
Hall and the Berlin Philharmonic.
All of the awardees' profiles are available on MusicalAmerica.com,