Ed Spanjaard was born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1948. He studied music (piano and conducting) in Amsterdam and London. From 1973 onward he worked as repetitor and assistant conductor at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (under Colin Davis, among others), the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (under Bernard Haitink) as well as with Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan. He also assisted for several years at Bayreuth, where he was involved in the preparations for the 1983 production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Georg Solti.

In 2001 he made his official debut at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. This successful collaboration has since led to frequent return engagements with that orchestra. As a pianist, Ed Spanjaard specializes in lied accompaniment, and has worked with the singers Elisabeth Söderström, Frederica von Stade and Elly Ameling. More recently he appeared with Charlotte Margiono and Miranda van Kralingen. In May 2008 he appeared as a soloist with ‘his’ orchestra in Maastricht in performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto KV 488, conducted by Jaap van Zweden.

With the Nieuw Ensemble he has conducted countless premieres, including the chamber operas Wolvendorp and Night Banquet by Guo Wenjing, a new production of Der Kaiser von Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann, Een Ziel van Houtby Robert Heppener (Holland Festival 1998) and Alfred Alfred by Franco Donatoni. The Nieuw Ensemble and Ed Spanjaard together established the Atlas Ensemble, comprised of musicians from all corners of the globe. In 2002 the Atlas Ensemble performed the world premieres of Seyir by Theo Loevendie and The waters flow their way by Fabio Nieder in Berlin.

As an opera conductor Ed Spanjaard has worked at De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam), the Opéra National de Lyon, the Nationale Reisopera (Enschede), Opera Zuid (Maastricht) and ‘Opera in Ahoy’ in Rotterdam, where he led a number of large-scale productions. His repertoire includesAida, Don Carlo, La Bohème, Turandot, Der Freischütz, Peter Grimes, Jenufaand Pelléas et Mélisande (Lyon, directed by Peter Stein). In addition Ed Spanjaard has conducted at the Vancouver Opera (Carmen) and the Frankfurter Oper. He also introduced Wolvendorp in Paris and New York, and in 2007 he conducted the world premiere of Guo Wenjing’s most recent opera, Poet Li Bai, in Central City (Colorado).

In September 2007 Ed Spanjaard performed Mahler’s First Symphony and Bruckner’s Ninth with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. In November/December 2007 the orchestra accompanied Puccini’s triptych Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi) with Opera Zuid. Early 2008 he conducted the world premiere of Snow White by Micha Hamel at the Nationale Reisopera. In November 2008 the new theater in Enschede has been inaugurated with the première of the opera Hotel de Peking by Willem Jeths. In September 2009 Ed Spanjaard has started to conduct Wagner’s monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen for the Nationale Reisopera to great critical acclaim (Das Rheingold in 2009, Die Walküre in 2010, Siegfried in 2011 and Götterdämmerung in 2012).


ed spanjaard

‘New’ is often an empty catchword in advertising jargon, but for the Nieuw Ensemble it literally means adventurous and unimaginable.

Ed Spanjaard, chief conductor