Robin de Raaff



Born in Breda, the Netherlands, in 1968, Robin de Raaff began playing both classical piano and bass guitar at a young age. With jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius as an early influence, Mr. de Raaff began writing his own music and lyrics for his band, eventually writing purely instrumental works. He enrolled as a student of composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he studied with Geert van Keulen and Theo Loevendie, graduating cum laude in 1997. In 1999 Mr. de Raaff was invited to be George Benjamin’s only composition student at London’s Royal College of Music, where he also studied with Julian Anderson. In 2000 Mr. de Raaff was invited to the Tanglewood Music Center as the Senior Composition Fellow. This began an ongoing relationship with Tanglewood that resulted in performances of his works and the commissions of his Piano Concerto for Tanglewood’s annual Festival of Contemporary Music; Entangled Tales for the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and, in 2015, a Fanfare for Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary.

Mr. de Raaff’s works have also been performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Cabrillo Festival, Banff Center, and Lincoln Center. A master class with Pierre Boulez in 1995 organized by the Dutch National Opera (DNO) resulted in the DNO commissioning Mr. de Raaff’s first opera, RAAFF, completed in 2004 and co-produced with the Holland Festival. His second opera, Waiting for Miss Monroe (2012), was also commissioned by DNO and received international acclaim. Mr. de Raaff’s Violin Concerto (2008), written for and premiered by Tasmin Little, was selected as the Best Orchestral Work of the Year by de Toonzetter. His Percussion Concerto (2014) was commissioned by the New Juilliard Ensemble and premiered at Lincoln Center, and in 2016 his oratorio Atlantis, in memory of Pierre Boulez, was premiered in Vredenburg, Utrecht. Mr. de Raaff served as Composer-in-Residence of the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra, which premiered his Symphony No. 4, Melodies unheard, in January 2017. Mr. de Raaff’s Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 1, Tanglewood Tales, were recorded by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Jaap van Zweden, in 2017. The Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording of his Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, and 4 will be released in June 2018.

Last season, in the Kurt Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall, brought the world premiere of De Raaff’s 2nd Violin Sonate “North Atlantic Light” based on the famous painting by Willem de Kooning who was a fellow country man of De Raaff. The ultimate larger version of this chamber work will be De Raaff’s Violin Concerto No. 2 “North Altantic Light” premiered in the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam in 2019.

Robin de Raaff is professor of composition and instrumentation at Codarts, formerly known as the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music.