12/23/2011 OT

Last thread before break, suckas (though I suspect quite a few of you are already there).

Hans Vonk (June 18, 1942 – August 29, 2004) was a Dutch conductor.

Vonk was born in Amsterdam, the son of Franciscus Cornelis and Wilhemina Vonk. His father was a violinist in the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and died when Vonk was age three. Vonk studied piano with Jaap Spaanderman at the Amsterdam Conservatory and law atAmsterdam University. During this time, he made a living from gigs as a jazz pianist. He later studied conducting with Hermann Scherchenand Franco Ferrara.

Vonk debuted as a conductor with the Netherlands National Ballet. He later married the ballerina, Jessie Folkerts. He also served as assistant conductor with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and associate conductor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London.

Vonk held chief conductor positions with De Nederlandse Opera (1976-1985), the Residentie Orkest (1980–1991) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1985 to 1990, he was principal conductor of both the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Semper Oper, Dresden. In 1988 he conducted at La Scala in Milan in a revival of Jommelli's Fetonte, but then had to take a year off from conducting after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological condition. He appeared to recover and resumed conducting. He became chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne in 1991.

In the USA, he made his first guest appearance with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) in 1992. In January 1995, he was appointed the SLSO's music director, after Leonard Slatkin, and took up the position in 1996.[1] In 2001, Vonk began to experience muscular weakness, which was not diagnosed to a specific ailment at the time. In 2002, he resigned his position in St. Louis because of these health problems, which were later diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a., Lou Gehrig disease).

In March 2002, Vonk was named chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony (NRSO).[2] He held the post for the 2003-2004 season, and was the orchestra's last chief conductor before its disbandment. His illness had debilitated him to the point that he conducted several NRSO concerts from a wheelchair.[3] On 29 August 2004, Vonk died in his Amsterdam home and is buried in that city under the epitaph (in English):

Music was his life.
Now it brings us
Solace and serenity

The St. Louis Symphony dedicated a program of Hector Berlioz's Requiem to him after his death.[4] He is survived by his widow, Jessie, who moved to Tasmania after her husband's death. In his memory, she built the Hans Vonk Music House, which began to host chamber music recitals in 2010.[5]

Alternative text Hans Vonk Music House

Luuk Reurich wrote a biography of Vonk, Hans Vonk, Een dirigentenleven (Hans Vonk, A Conductor's Life), published in 2006.[3] Vonk's recordings are on the Chandos and Denon labels, among others, and include two CDs of the Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock.[6] Vonk was regarded as a specialist in the music of Anton Bruckner.[7], as well as an advocate of the music of Peter Schat, including conducting the world premiere of Schat's stage work Houdini.[8]

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