Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world. Time and time again, critics have lauded its unique sound, which clearly stands out among thousands of others. The influence exerted on the orchestra by its chief conductors, of whom there have been only six in the last 125 years, is important as is that of the musicians themselves. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is made up of 120 players hailing from over twenty countries. Despite its size, the orchestra actually functions more like a chamber orchestra in terms of the sensitivity with which its members listen to, and work in tandem with, one another. The atmosphere on stage, the orchestra’s roots in Amsterdam and the organisational structure (the RCO Board also includes members of the orchestra) all converge to create exactly the right circumstances for exceptional music-making.


Mariss Jansons was welcomed as the orchestra’s sixth chief conductor in September 2004. Serving before him in that capacity were Willem Kes (chief conductor from 1888 to 1895). Willem Mengelberg (1895–1945) laid the foundation for the orchestra’s acclaimed Mahler tradition. Eduard van Beinum (1945–1959) introduced Bruckner’s symphonies and French music. The Christmas Matinee concerts conducted by Bernard Haitink (1963–1988) and televised in many European countries earned him wide acclaim. Riccardo Chailly (1988–2004) provided a great impetus to the programming of contemporary music and opera. Under the direction of Mariss Jansons, the orchestra has consistently focused on composers such as Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss and Brahms. Through the years, the orchestra has continued its collaboration with composers such as George Benjamin, Oliver Knussen, Tan Dun and Thomas Adès, who over the last few years have followed in the footsteps of other conducting composers like Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Bruno Maderna, Witold Lutoslawski, Otto Ketting, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Hans Werner Henze and John Adams.

The orchestra upholds a number of special long-established concert traditions, such as the Passion and Christmas Matinee performances and the famous Zaterdag Matinee with contemporary music (see FAZ 05.02.2014).

The Concertgebouw Orchestra was founded in 1888. In addition to some eighty concerts performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra gives forty concerts at leading concert halls throughout the world each year. The orchestra participates in residencies in Paris (Salle Pleyel), Brussels (BOZAR), London (Barbican Centre) and Frankfurt (Alte Oper). Additional to regular radio and television broadcasts in collaboration with its media partner, the Dutch broadcasting network AVRO, the orchestra has made over 1,100 LP, CD and DVD recordings to date, many of which have won international distinctions. In 2004, the orchestra launched its own in-house label, RCO Live.