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Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden has risen rapidly in little more than a decade to become one of today’s most sought-after conductors. He has been Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and in September 2012 he took up the position of Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, for an initial contract of four years. Appointed at nineteen as the youngest concertmaster ever of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he began his conducting career in 1995 and held the positions of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (1996-2000), Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague (2000-2005), and Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra (2008-2011) and Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Radio Chamber Orchestras from 2005-2011(he remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra). In November 2011 van Zweden was named as the recipient of Musical America's Conductor of the Year Award 2012 in recognition of his critically acclaimed work as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as a guest conductor with the most prestigious US orchestras.

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Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden has risen rapidly in little more than a decade to become one of today’s most sought-after conductors. He has been Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and in September 2012 he took up the position of Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Appointed at nineteen as the youngest concertmaster ever of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he began his conducting career in 1995 and held the positions of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (1996-2000), Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague (2000-2005), and Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra (2008-2011) and Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Radio Chamber Orchestras from 2005-2011(he remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra). In November 2011 van Zweden was named as the recipient of Musical America's Conductor of the Year Award 2012 in recognition of his critically acclaimed work as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as a guest conductor with the most prestigious US orchestras.

Jaap van Zweden has appeared as guest conductor with many leading orchestras across the globe, including the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Munich Philharmonic, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. Aside from an extensive symphonic repertoire, opera also plays an important part in Maestro van Zweden’s career, and he has conducted La Traviata and Fidelio with the National Reisopera, Madama Butterfly at the Netherlands Opera, and concert performances of Verdi’s Otello, Barber’s Vanessa and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, Parsifal and Lohengrin at the Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.

Recent highlights have included highly acclaimed debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Boston, San Francisco and London Symphonies, and his BBC Proms debut conducting the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in Bruckner’s Eighth symphony. Future highlights include subscription debuts with the Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Budapest Festival Orchestra and return visits to the Orchestre de Paris and the Rotterdam and London Philharmonic Orchestras. He will curate with the Chicago Symphony a three-week festival entitled "Truth to Power" that will focus on music of Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, tour China with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and return to the Verbier Festival.

Jaap van Zweden has made numerous acclaimed recordings which include Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka, Britten’s War Requiem, and the complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. He has recently completed a cycle of Bruckner symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, to great critical acclaim. He has recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 with the London Philharmonic (LPO Live), and Mozart Piano Concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra and David Fray (Virgin) and his highly acclaimed performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger and Parsifal are also available on CD/DVD, the latter of which earned Maestro van Zweden the prestigious Edison award for Best Opera Recording in 2012. For the Dallas Symphony’s own record label he has released the symphonies of Tchaikovsky (Nos. 4 and 5) and Beethoven (5 and 7), and the world premiere recording of Steven Stucky’s cantata ‘August 4, 1964’.

In 1997, Jaap van Zweden and his wife Aaltje established the Papageno Foundation, the objective being to support families with one or more children with autism. Over the years, that support has taken shape in a number of projects, such as Music Therapy and Music Makers, where professional music therapists and musicians, who receive additional training from Papageno, use music and make music with autistic children.

SEASON  2013/2014

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Reviews

"Jaap van Zweden is now the leading interpreter of Bruckner’s symphonies, and has trained his orchestra to perform them brilliantly. This is a leading recommendation [of Symphony No. 3]."

Michael Tanner, BBC Music Magazine

"With Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, it seemed as if he and the Vienna Philharmonic had made music together for decades: the intention of the conductor and the execution by the orchestra were completely as one. Like rider and horse in absolute harmony. […] A Bruckner interpretation of high precision and persuasiveness."

Stefan Ender, Der Standard, April 2014

"The Dallas Symphony and music director Jaap van Zweden returned to Meyerson Symphony Center Thursday through Sunday to create a delicate and intriguing conversation […] Van Zweden and the orchestra performed with gorgeous sensitivity throughout the performance"

Wayne Lee Gay, D Magazine, March 2014

"[Verdi Requiem] has been overexposed around here in recent seasons, but music director Jaap van Zweden ensured that there wouldn’t be a routine note. Phrases were lovingly shaped, pivotal notes sometimes breathtakingly — but strategically — delayed. Everything was fastidiously scaled and integrated."

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, February 2014

"[van Zweden’s] sense of balance allowed for full appreciation of all the details of Mozart’s counterpoint, as well as the composer’s sharp ear for the interplay of sonorities across string, wind, and brass sections."

Stephen Smoliar, SF Classical Music Examiner, February 2014

"The climax of the introduction was big enough to be the climax of a whole symphony – how could van Zweden keep up the energy? But he did: drawing the music into huge arcs and keeping momentum fierce, he paced things superbly."

Erica Jeal, The Guardian, February 2014

"In the scherzo [of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2], not so fast as to obscure the full nature of the music’s conception, van Zweden’s perfect tempos allowed a full range of expression."

Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source, February 2014

"It was a case of saving the best for last this weekend as the St. Louis Symphony concluded its four-week "Beethoven Festival" with stunning performances by guest conductor Jaap van Zweden"

Chuck Lavazzi, kdhx.org, January 2014

"Without succumbing to the temptation of hyperbolic enthusiasm, I cannot recall ever having heard a finer performance of the work overall than this. I should be astonished, not to say envious, if all those who know and love their Bruckner have either."

Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review, November 2013

"[Bruckner's Eighth Symphony] receives here under the baton of Jaap van Zweden a performance such as I have not heard excelled in over 50 years. [...] van Zweden's conducting raises this interpretation to the level of van Beinum, Horenstein, Schuricht, Karajan, Haitink and other great Bruckner interpreters in terms of structural grasp and understanding. [...] The reports coming out of the USA since van Zweden took over the Dallas Symphony Orchestra four years ago have clearly not been exaggerated. "

Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review, September 2012

"This is a mature and powerful reading of the Sixth Symphony, the most original and adventurous of the nine. Mature because sometimes, in Bruckner, lesser conductors than Jaap van Zweden see clearly only the glorious heights, and not all that leads to them. Not here. Van Zweden sensitively shapes the vast architecture of the opening movement. The slow movement is exquisitely unhurried. The scherzo is bustlingly obsessive, its contrastingly slow trio section garnished with lovely miniature horn fanfares, and the finale is just as rewarding as all that’s come before."

Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times

"I mean it as the highest praise when I say that the Beethoven Seventh van Zweden and the CSO produced was exceptional enough to efface from memory any number of mediocre readings I've heard over the years. He chose relatively fast tempos, as if trying to approximate Beethoven's controversial metronome markings, making them work without sounding brusque or hectic. His Seventh carried a sense of boundless, driving energy: lean of texture, taut of rhythm, explosive of accent. Most conductors manage the music's kinetic excitement well enough, but in so doing they short-change the fine balances and structural rigor Beethoven built into his masterpiece; Van Zweden kept each element in harmony with the other, and the orchestra members played as if possessed."

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, May 2012

"Mahler’s popular First Symphony was the major work [Jaap van Zweden] chose for his Philharmonic debut. From the dynamic, all-out performance he conducted, it seems clear that he came to town determined to make music and make an impression. He did both on Thursday. If the performance was sometimes too feisty and intense, it was certainly exciting. [...] In the second movement, a sort of hardy scherzo, Mr. van Zweden captured the heavy-footed, folk-dance spirit, though the playing was almost rigidly emphatic. [...] The slow movement, seemingly a funeral march, was very good, played with rustic character and just enough rawness to convey the implied parody. Mahler marks the opening of the finale “With violent movement,” and for that, the kinetic Mr. van Zweden is your man. He drew blazing playing from the orchestra, which contrasted with the dreamy beauty of the lyrical midsection. After the rousing brassy fanfare brought the piece to an end, the audience erupted in an ovation that rivaled Ms. Wang’s, which is saying something."

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, April 2012

"The manner by which van Zweden built the finale [of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2] was enormously impressive and undeniably thrilling. […] Van Zweden has done a commendable job of cultivating stylish performances of classical-period repertory."

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, February 2014

"How easy it would be to start this review with a picture and a blazing review of Yuja Wang and the Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto. That was until Fate intervened in the person of a young Dutch conductor. Because Jaap van Zweden conducted Mahler’s First Symphony. And all the praise I expected and obtained from Yuja Wang evaporated in the mists of the Mahler performance. [...] If one had to characterize the van Zweden performance, it would be “bracing”. Nothing was Grieg-pretty-pretty with the sunrise. After the six-part harmonics of the opening, those bird-calls meant business. [...] That was the mood of the following dances, which were actually danceable. The illusion was that Mr. van Zweden was taking the pace quicker than usual. The reality was that the rhythms were sharp, his upbeats gave every note its adrenaline. [...] The finale was controlled fire. I have heard more passionate endings, more endings which retained the dissonance of the first chord. But Mr. van Zweden’s fire never seared: it was blazing, it was tense, and the recapitulations of earlier themes were swirled around like dreams before Mahler’s own twilight of the gods. [...] Every Mahler is memorable. This was a very very great Mahler performance"

Harry Rolnick, ww.concertonet.com

"Friday night’s performance, at the Meyerson Symphony Center, was as electrifying as you’ll hear anywhere. Again and again, ears marveled at sounds van Zweden was getting out of the orchestra: a white-hot mass of violin tone, a warm wash of violas, a velvet nap of cellos, the winds’ eloquent phrasings, the razor-sharp assaults of brass. This was sinewy, not sentimental Tchaikovsky, but with warmth aplenty."

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, February 2012

"Van Zweden’s direction of this charged, grief-stricken war music was electrifyingly intense, and produced some terrifyingly intense playing from the LPO, magnificently on the top of its form. [...] This was music-making that gripped from the start, with Jaap van Zweden guiding us through the seething orchestral detail with an unfailingly accurate, imaginative ear, the LPO delivering this burden of anguish with playing of unflinching intensity. "

Peter Reed, classicalsource.com, October 2011

"I’ve heard the famous orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Cleveland. I cannot recall orchestral music-making as gripping or as lovingly expressive as what Jaap van Zweden got out of the Dallas Symphony on Saturday night. [...] The overture and symphony, both with plenty of outdoorsy energies, were marvels of visceral urgency, dramatic timing and elaborately nuanced dynamics. Rare’s the conductor with van Zweden’s feeling for how phrases rise and fall, how they accumulate into broader musical sentences and paragraphs, and when the music wants to breathe. Again and again, one marveled at inner voices brought out just so."

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News, September 2011

"Van Zweden's Bruckner is not monumental so much as yearningly expressive; its great paragraphs are not hewn from granite but carefully moulded to fit, and powered with an extraordinary dramatic energy. It was swift, too: 75 minutes is very much on the short side for performances of the Eighth, but nothing seemed rushed or hastily considered – just guided on an utterly sure path from first note to last."

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, August 2011

" I was struck by the performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony that van Zweden and the BSO pulled out after intermission. They were working against withering heat and humidity, and that generalized summer lethargy that sometimes collects around the umpteenth airing of any Beethoven symphony [yet] they summoned a lean and crackling performance that wedded inevitability and surprise. For his part, van Zweden radiated energy from the podium [...] and led the orchestra as if he expected nothing less than exactly what he received. "

Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe, July 2011

"A pure musician, van Zweden does not require hype or engage in theatrical gestures on or off the podium. […] his skills and rapport with the Bruckner-steeped Chicago Symphony were such that the 80-minute symphony [no. 5] was clearly etched, balanced and gripping from beginning to end. On the strength of this remarkable debut, I would go to hear Van Zweden conduct anything, anywhere. "

Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times, October 2008

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Discography