Hartmut Haenchen (born: March 21, 1943) is a prominent German orchestral conductor.
Haenchen was born in Dresden and began his musical career as a member of the Dresden Kreuzchor. By the age of 15 he was already conducting performances as cantor. As a 17-year-old he attracted widespread attention with his revival of Johann Adolph Hasse's Requiem. Haenchen subsequently studied conducting and voice at the Dresden Hochschule für Musik. He then attended master classes in Berlin and at Carinthian Summer Festival in Austria, later attending rehearsals at the Bayreuth Festival and concerts conducted by Herbert von Karajan.
Haenchen first engagement was as director of the Robert-Franz-Singakademie (choral society) in Halle and conductor of the Halle Philharmonic Orchestra in 1966. He went on to win first prize at the Carl Maria von Weber Competition in Dresden in 1971. In 1972-1973 Haenchen served as principal Kapellmeister of the Zwickau Theatre. During that period he made his debut at the Berlin State Opera, directing Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. He appeared there regularly until 1986.
From 1973 to 1976 Haenchen was conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic and a regular guest in the pit of the Dresden State Opera. Between 1976 and 1979, he served as music director of the Mecklenburgische Staatskapelle and Staatstheater in Schwerin. Subsequently, he began to make regular appearances at Berlin's Komische Oper. In 1980 he took over as artistic director of the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra in Berlin.
In 1986, Haenchen became music director of the De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam and principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. During his tenure in Amsterdam, The Dutch opera became renowned for its high-quality ensemble productions and innovative stagings. Haenchen was particularly associated with the German repertoire: Richard Strauss, Mozart, and Wagner, but he also conducted opera of Verdi, Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, and Gluck. After the 1999 Ring cycle, Haenchen left his post but has continued as a guest conductor.
Under his leadership, the newly-formed Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra quickly rose in stature, not only in its opera performances but also in symphonic concerts, recordings, and foreign tours. However, Haenchen resigned his position in September 2002 in protest of budgetary cuts.
Haenchen has made guest appearances in virtually all the European countries and toured Japan, the United States and Canada. He has conducted opera in Bologna, Geneva, Jerusalem, London, Munich, New York, Stuttgart, Warsaw, Vienna and Wiesbaden. Two new productions, which he directed at the Royal Opera House in London, were singled out for the Laurence Olivier Award. In 1995 he returned to the Berlin State Opera as principal guest conductor.