Edo de Waart established a notable conducting career in the last third of the 20th century, becoming known for clear, exciting performances in a wide range of repertory.
He came from a musical family, being the son of a choral singer. He studied oboe with Haakon Stotijn and also conducting at the Music Lyceum in Amsterdam. He became co-principal oboe of the Amsterdam Philharmonic in 1961 and associate principal of the Concertgebouw Orchestra
in 1963. Meanwhile, he studied conducting, including a course with Franco Ferrara at Hilversum in 1964. This led to a debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
in 1964. That same year he won the prestigious Dimitri Mitropoulos
Conductors' Competition in New York, which resulted in a year-long appointment as an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic
(1965-66). He became assistant conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw
under Bernard Haitink
in 1966. He made an impressive recorded debut with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble
, which he founded in 1967, including classic recordings of Mozart
wind music. He was also appointed co-music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic
with Jean Fournet
, becoming sole music director when Fournet
vacated his appointment in 1973. His association with the Rotterdam Philharmonic
, which lasted until 1979, became noted for firm, exciting orchestral performances and intriguing choices of repertory. In 1975 he became principal guest conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
, and was elevated to music director in 1977. Although the orchestra was often capable of fine performances, it was variable and had weaknesses. De Waart lifted its standards, turning it into a consistently fine orchestra. In 1985 he conducted an acclaimed series of the complete Wagner
Ring operas in San Francisco.