Having directed the New York Philharmonic since 2018, Jaap van Zweden made the announcement at the end of a rehearsal this week.
According to a report by The New York Times, the pandemic made the 60-year-old conductor reconsider some priorities — explaining that it became increasingly difficult to see his family, especially during the orchestra's busy touring season.
Van Zweden originally planned to leave the role in 2023 when his initial contract was to expire. However, according to NY Phil’s President and CEO Deborah Borda, he will stay on an extra year to give the ensemble time to return to the newly renovated David Geffen Hall in 2022. The space is opening two years ahead of schedule, after accelerated construction plans.
It is also of note that van Zweden will assist in finding a suitable successor. "Jaap’s willingness to extend his contract by an additional year (through the 23/24 season) provides us the time and space to run a search process that is thoughtful and elegant," Borda commented.
“The pandemic has changed all our worlds, so I recognize and respect the very personal decision Jaap has made about his future,” she continued.
Van Zweden spent most of the last year and a half at home in the Netherlands — and has since returned to New York to open the new 2021-22 season at Alice Tully Hall with a concert entitled “From Silence to Celebration” on Friday evening.
Of the NY Phil's past music directions, the conductor’s tenure will be the shortest since Pierre Boulez, who led the orchestra for six seasons in the 1970s.
“While I love the NY Philharmonic and look forward to continuing as Music Director over the next three seasons, so much has changed because of COVID, including thoughts about my own future, my life, and my family,” said van Zweden in a note to NY Phil's musicians obtained by Vulture.
"In life, I think timing is critical: it's important to know when to say yes and when to move on,” he continued. “With that thought in mind, my inner voice tells me the time is right to conclude my tenure as Music Director at the end of the 2023-24 season.”
Born in Amsterdam, Jaap van Zweden was 19 when he became the youngest-ever concertmaster of Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His conducting career began almost 20 years later in 1996.
In addition to being New York Philharmonic's 26th Music Director, van Zweden currently serves as Hong Kong Philharmonic's Music Director —a role he will also step down from when his contract expires in 2024.
He is the Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he was Chief Conductor from 2005 to 2013, and has also directed the Royal Flanders Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.