Hartmut Haenchen was born in Dresden in 1943. He was awarded first prize at the Carl Maria von Weber Competition in that city in 1971. During the 1972–3 season he made his debut at the Berlin State Opera, directing Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. He appeared there regularly until 1986. From 1973 to 1976, Haenchen was conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic and a regular guest with the Dresden State Opera. Subsequently, he began to make regular appearances at Berlin’s Komische Oper.
In 1986, Haenchen became music director of the De Nederlandse Opera (DNO) in Amsterdam and chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO). His Ring cycle in Amsterdam was an outstanding success and will be revived in 2012–14. He has collaborated with La Scala, Milan, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Opéra National de Paris, and performed with orchestras throughout the world including the Berlin Philharmonic and Concertgebouw. Projects have included a Mahler cycle with the Orchestre du Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. In October 2008 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit of the Republic of Germany, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music and the arts.
These recordings of Mahler’s Symphony No.1 and the massive Symphony No.8 are being released on ICA’s ‘Live’ artist series to commemorate Hartmut Haenchen’s seventieth birthday. Any recording of Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ is a major and rare event and this live performance in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, a venue closely associated with Mahler, is no exception. The superb digital recording captures the stupendous sound of both symphonies and in particular the huge forces employed and wide dynamic range that Mahler demands in Symphony No.8.
Haenchen’s recent live Mahler Symphony No.6 can be seen on DVD (ICAD5018): the disc won a prestigious Diapason d’or award.