Hans Vonk

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Hans Vonk



Hans Vonk

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 at Amsterdam University. During this time, he made a living from gigs as a jazz pianist. He later studied conducting with Hermann Scherchen and 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 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. 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).


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