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Hans Vonk (1942 - 2004)


Hans Vonk’s father was a violinist in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, who died when his son was only three years old. Throughout his childhood Hans studied the piano, but, at the request of his mother, he studied law at the University of Amsterdam, playing jazz piano at night to support himself. However, after deciding that he could not find it within himself to become ‘one of just hundreds of attorneys’, he enrolled at the Amsterdam Conservatory to study the piano. During his second year there he played for conducting classes and decided to switch to conducting. ‘It was…so wonderful,’ he recalled, ‘the way the conductor released the music—I went to the director of the school, and I said, “This is a wonderful thing, this conducting. I would love to study it as well.” ’ After graduating in 1964 Vonk undertook further study with the conductors Franco Ferrara and Hermann Scherchen. He was appointed conductor of the Dutch National Ballet in 1966, and three years later became assistant conductor with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Vonk first conducted opera with the Netherlands Opera in 1971, directing Wolfgang Fortner’s In seinem Garten liebt Don Perlimplin.

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