Jaap van Zweden to Lead French Orchestra After New York Philharmonic

The conductor Jaap van Zweden does not leave his position as the New York Philharmonic’s music director until later this summer.

But his post-New York plans are already taking shape. In January, van Zweden officially began a five-year term as the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director. And on Tuesday, he announced another new job: He will become music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, a French radio orchestra in Paris, for a five-year term starting in 2026.

Van Zweden, 63, succeeds Mikko Franck, who will step down next year after a decade on the podium. Van Zweden will take over as music director designate next year, the orchestra said in a news release, leading several weeks of concerts and a European tour.

Van Zweden, who got his start as concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam in 1979, when he was 19, said he was eager to once again be part of a European ensemble.

“I could not be happier about inaugurating this relationship with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France,” he said in a statement. “In Paris, I can experience anew the musical colors familiar to me from Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, another great European orchestra.”

Van Zweden made his debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France last year, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and a violin concerto by John Adams. The orchestra’s players said they felt an immediate connection.

“It was clear from the first rehearsal that we had found our new music director,” Jean-Pierre Odasso, president of the musicians’ council, said in a statement, calling van Zweden’s appointment “a real joy for the musicians.”

The orchestra said that van Zweden planned to promote new works during his tenure, with a special focus on contemporary pieces by French composers. He will lead his first European tour with the ensemble in October 2025.

Van Zweden, who is from Amsterdam, came to New York in 2018, only to have his tenure interrupted by the pandemic.

In 2021, he made the surprise announcement that he would depart New York, saying the pandemic had made him rethink his life and priorities. His six-year tenure will be the shortest of any Philharmonic music director since Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor who led the orchestra for six seasons in the 1970s.

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