Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world, having
collaborated with leading conductors and soloists since it was founded in 1888. Indeed,
such composers as Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler conducted the orchestra on more than
one occasion, often in performances of their own works. To this day, the orchestra
continues to foster long-term relationships with contemporary composers through such
initiatives as its AAA Music and Arts Festival, a thematically programmed festival series
that explores present-day extramusical trends and contexts.
Since its inception, the orchestra has cultivated a very distinct, individual sound-one
which is due in part to the unique acoustics of the Concertgebouw itself. The influence of
the musicians and the orchestra's chief conductors, of whom there have been only six in the
last 125 years, has also been important. Willem Kes introduced audiences to a varied
repertoire, including many contemporary works. Willem Mengelberg laid the foundation for
the orchestra's acclaimed Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum introduced Bruckner's
symphonies and French music. The Christmas matinee concerts conducted by Bernard Haitink
were televised in many European countries, earning him wide acclaim. During his tenure,
Riccardo Chailly gave great impetus to the performance of contemporary music and opera.
Under the direction of Mariss Jansons since 2004, the orchestra has focused on composers
such as Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss, and Brahms, as well as a number of major 20th-century
On the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 1988, the orchestra officially received the
appellation "Royal." Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima is the orchestra's patroness. The
orchestra has its own Orchestra Academy, which provides instruction in orchestral playing
to young, talented musicians. Each year, the orchestra reaches some 250,000 concertgoers
through approximately 90 concerts in Amsterdam and 40 performances in some of the world's
leading concert halls. The orchestra participates in residencies in Paris (Salle Pleyel),
Brussels (BOZAR), and London (Barbican Centre). RCO societies of friends have been
established in the United States, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. In
2004, the orchestra launched its own in-house record label, RCO Live.
In 2013, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra celebrates its 125th anniversary with an
exciting array of special activities in Amsterdam and a world tour.
"It's my task to find out the orchestra's special qualities and preserve them. Then, if
through a natural process my own individuality adds something-and theirs to me-that will be
fine," said Mariss Jansons. And fine it most certainly is, a fact that became readily
apparent after his appointment as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in
2004. Music is in Mr. Jansons's blood. His father was a conductor and his mother an opera
singer in his native Latvia. He studied violin and conducting in Leningrad, continuing his
studies with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1973, Mr.
Jansons was appointed Yevgeny Mravinsky's assistant with the St. Petersburg
Philharmonic Orchestra, which Mr. Jansons's father Arvīds had also conducted. From 1979 to
2000, he served as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing it great
international acclaim. He has made numerous appearances throughout the world as a guest
conductor of the Berlin, Vienna, and London philharmonic orchestras, as well as the leading
orchestras of the US.
Mr. Jansons was appointed music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1997 (a
post he held until 2004) and music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in
2003. Making his first guest appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1988, he
returned nearly every year thereafter and was appointed its chief conductor in 2004. He is
the sixth conductor to hold the post since the orchestra was founded in 1888. Mr. Jansons
has received various distinctions for his achievements, including honorary membership of
the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. He is
also the recipient of the Austrian Decoration of Honour for Science and Art, the Latvian
Three-Star Order, and the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In June 2013, Mr.
Jansons will be awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for his life and work
in the service of music.