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Ton Koopman

'Ton Koopman's Bach is not only a composer of a brilliant series of notes, it is also a resounding portrait of a man who has musically expressed sorrow, melancholy, restrained anger, joy, sadness, lovelessness, love, happiness and whatnot.'

Klassieke Zaken


In a career now spanning over sixty years, Ton Koopman, who was born in Zwolle on 2 October 1944, is now recognised as an undisputed world authority in the field of historical performance practice in general and the work of JS Bach in particular. He is, in effect, the most significant surviving pioneer of historical performance practice, which was still a niche area of classical music during the 1960s and 1970s.


Ton Koopman contributed to a reversal of this situation when he founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in 1979. With this orchestra and the Amsterdam Baroque Choir, which was set up in 1992, Koopman changed the way in which the object of his greatest love, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, was performed and experienced by his audiences.


Own Ensembles


This love affair came early in his career and stayed with him after high school when he started his organ, harpsichord and musicology studies in Amsterdam. He was by then also directing his own Musica Antiqua Amsterdam, the predecessor of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and he was the first to perform Bach's St John Passion in 1973 on period instruments, with this ensemble and Philippe Herreweghe's Collegium Vocale Gent.


Many more first performances were to follow with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir (ABO&C) as the ensemble has been known since 1992. The ensemble rapidly gained global fame under the inspirational guidance of Ton Koopman and is now regarded as one of the leading orchestras in the historical performance practice arena.


Guest Conductorships


Ton Koopman also has an extensive repertoire as a guest conductor, from the Baroque period to the early Romantics. He has been featured as a guest on many occasions with world famous orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw. He is often asked to teach the subtlety of historical performance practice to an ensemble that is more accustomed to playing on modern instruments. He also regularly performs repertoire from the first half of the nineteenth century, including works by Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn.


Award-winning Recordings


Ton Koopman achieved international recognition with his ABO&C for recordings such as his complete set of all surviving cantatas by J.S. Bach, gaining awards such as the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis ‘Echo Klassik’, the BBC Award 2008 and the Prix Hector Berlioz. Since 2003, the bulk of his CD recordings have been issued on his own Antoine Marchand record label, distributed by Challenge Classics.


Professor and Researcher


Ton Koopman also has a major presence in the musical world as a harpsichordist and organist. He regularly plays alongside his wife, harpsichordist Tini Mathot, and was professor of harpsichord for many years at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Nowadays, his teaching activities are confined to masterclasses all over the world. Ton Koopman also enjoys global respect as an academic and researcher. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Utrecht in 2000, is Emeritus Professor at the University of Leiden and gained the distinctions of honorary professorships at the Musikhochschule Lübeck and the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz in 2016.




His other distinguished awards include the Bach Prize of the City of Leipzig in 2006, the Lübeck Buxtehude Prize in 2012 and the Bach Prize of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014. Ton Koopman is president of the Internationale Dieterich Buxtehude Gesellschaft and artistic director of the French music festival ‘Itinéraire Baroque’. He became president of the Bach Archive Leipzig in 2019 and has been an Honorary Member of the Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft of Zurich since 2024, a year in which he was also made an Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Zwolle.




Over his career, Ton Koopman built up an impressive library of books, old prints, sheet music and manuscripts. His collection found a new home in 2020 at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, so that his collection will remain accessible for a new generation of musicians, musicologists and researchers, allowing his work to be carried on by future generations.

ABO 2016 -®FoppeSchut. fc_C6A8731.jpg

Guest conducterships 


New York Philharmonic

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Berliner Philharmoniker

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Boston Symphony Orchestra

NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo

Wiener Symphoniker

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France Paris

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Edison Oeuvre Award

Bach Award Royal Academy of Music

Buxtehude-Preis Lübeck

Bach-Medaille Leipzig 

Echo Klassik

BBC Award

Prix Hector Berlioz

VSCD Klassieke Muziekprijs

Honorary Artistic Advisor Guangzhou Opera House

Honorary Professorship Anton Bruckner University 

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