Hartmut Haenchen's incredible story starts in Dresden under the Allied bombs. Yet, neither the bombs nor the Stasi were able to prevent his successful career. The conductor confides about his peculiar journey.
On 13 February 1945, the conductor Hartmut Haenchen was nearly two years old when Dresden went up in flames after colossal bombings by the Allies. From a basement window the young Haenchen saw how the skies of his city were on fire. Growing up among the debris he managed to develop his musical talent under the discipline of a strict GDR system. Despite the East German regime’s restrictions, Haenchen was granted permission to work with the finest ensembles in the West, including the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Still, the Stasi, the Secret Service, kept a tab on him for many years: a youthful political sin dogged his steps for so long that he was nearly prevented to become the international top conductor he is now. It is not until later that he was allowed to see his Stasi files. To his bewilderment he discovered not only who spied on him at the time, but also the exact moments when he and his girlfriend got onto trams.
In 1986, he moved to the Netherlands where he started his "second" career. Soon he became Music Director of both of the Netherlands Philharmonic and De Nederlandse Opera.
Particularly renowned for his works by Richard Strauss and Mahler, the Opernwelt called Haenchen "[…] undoubtedly one of the great Wagner conductors of our time."