The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Globe-trotting conductor Edo de Waart bids farewell to Madison and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra this Sunday afternoon at the Wisconsin Union Theater with music by Mozart, Bloch and Elgar | May 17, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Music director and conductor Edo de Waart is coming to the end of his widely praised eight-year tenure at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, after which he will become a conductor laureate of the MSO.

The busy and energetic 75-year-old de Waart (below, in a photo by Jesse Willems) started  his career as a assistant principal oboist of the Concertgebouw and rose to become an acclaimed symphony and opera conductor. Currently, he is also the music director of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In the past, he held major posts in Hong Kong, San Francisco, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, New York, Houston, Sydney, Rotterdam and Amsterdam among many others.

For more on de Waart, go to his Wikipedia entry:

Unless they go to Milwaukee on the following weekend — Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 26-28 — to hear de Waart conduct Gustav Mahler’s mammoth Symphony No. 3 as his final farewell, listeners in the Madison area will likely have their last chance to hear the formidable de Waart and the accomplished Milwaukee players (below, with concertmaster Frank Almond on the left) this coming Sunday afternoon.

At 2:30 p.m. in Shannon Hall at the Wisconsin Union Theater, de Waart and the MSO will perform the Overture to the opera “Don Giovanni,” K. 527, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Ernest Bloch’s “Schlomo: A Hebraic Rhapsody” with MSO principal cellist Susan Babini (below); and Sir Edward Elgar’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 55.

There will also be a free pre-concert lecture at 1:30 p.m. by Randal Swiggum.

Tickets run from $15 to $49. For more information, including ticket prices and purchasing outlets, audiovisual links and links to reviews and background stories, go to:

The Ear has always been impressed not only with the quality of de Waart’s conducting, but also with his choice of soloists and his creative approach to programming. He has fond memories of other performances in Madison by the MSO, which used to tour here regularly.

The distinguished de Waart, a native of the Netherlands, has enjoyed critical acclaim in his international career across Europe, Asia and North America. For a while, this acclaimed world-class musician who has made so many award-winning recordings and performed so many guest stints around the world, was even a neighbor who lived in Middleton, a suburb of Madison, where his wife is from.

Plus, de Waart has a fine philosophy of making music and leading an orchestra, as you can hear in the YouTube video below that was made when he first took over the reins of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra:


  1. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel a week or so ago, he will continue to live in Middleton, with four trips to New Zealand during the year, for three weeks each time.

    He will also do other conducting gigs around the world, but the paper was quoting him directly.

    Comment by bratschespeilerin — May 17, 2017 @ 3:05 am

    • Good to hear that. New Zealand is stunningly beautiful, especially the South Island. It’s like Switzerland by the sea only with less people and cheaper.

      Middleton is an excellent choice for retirement: very active, especially musically.

      Comment by FFlambeau — May 17, 2017 @ 10:40 pm

  2. This is a big loss for classical music lovers in the area, especially with the almost simultaneous retirement of James Smith at UW.

    Edo de Waart is far more famous internationally than Smith but both have done wonderful things.

    And what a delightful closing concert for Madison. It’s unusual especially since it is not full of the “war horses” we get so much from our local guy. Some music from an opera too (sad how little in the way we’ve seen that here in Madison although one of our local Maestros is an alleged opera conductor). He’s also shown a generous impulse while in Wisconsin: I believe he has donated many of his conducting scores to the UW School of Music.

    I believe I’ve read elsewhere that Maestro de Waart will move to New Zealand. Good choice, especially in these days of Trump.

    Best wishes to Maestro de Waart, good luck and thanks for your professionalism.

    Comment by FFlambeau — May 17, 2017 @ 12:14 am

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