Obituary: Reinbert de Leeuw Dies at 81

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Hans Hijmering)

Famed Dutch composer, pianist and conductor Reinbert de Leeuw died in Amsterdam at the age of 81 on Feb. 14, 2020.

De Leeuw studied music theory and piano at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and composition with Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.

He was the founder of the “Dutch Charles Ives Society”  and became a Professor at the Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) in 2004. He would later become a Professor Emeritus.

Throughout his career, De Leeuw conducted various opera productions at the Dutch National Opera as well as with the Nederlandse Reisopera. Among the productions he conducted are included Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress,” Andriessens’ “Rosa – A Horse Drama; Writing to Vermeer,” Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre,” Vivier’s “Rêves d’un Marco Polo,” Zuidam’s “Rage d‘Amours,” and Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw.”

De Leeuw was also the Guest Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival and he also served as the Artistic Advisor for contemporary music with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Famed soprano Barbara Hannigan posted a tribute to the late Dutch conductor on her official Facebook page, stating that “De Leeuw will always stay in her heart, and will remain a guide and inspiration for generations of musicians and composers.”

De Leeuw’s last appearance onstage was at the Festival de Saintes in July 2019, where he conducted a performance of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.