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Professor Richard Rijnvos

Professor of Composition

Professor of Composition in the Department of Music



Richard Rijnvos studied composition with Jan van Vlijmen and Brian Ferneyhough at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague (Netherlands). After graduating summa cum laude he received a DAAD scholarship, which enabled him to undertake postgraduate studies at the Staatliche Musikhochschule in Freiburg (Germany). Between 1986 and 1992, he came into contact with the American composers Morton Feldman and John Cage, who exerted a considerable influence on his artistic development. His creative aesthetic has also been shaped by artists such as William Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Beuys, Italo Calvino and Ernst Jandl.

Since 1993 Richard Rijnvos concentrates on the realisation of compositions that are part of larger series. Between 1995 and 2000 he created the eighty-minute cycle Block Beuys. Modelled on the Darmstadt collection with the same name, which consists of objects by the German visual artist Joseph Beuys, he dedicated a piece of music to each of its seven rooms. Late 2008 Richard Rijnvos completed Uptown|Downtown, thought of as an evening-long dance production in six movements about urban life in New York City. This metropolitan panorama includes the award-winning NYConcerto as well as the triptych Manhattan Square Dances. Another cycle of works dedicated to an enthralling city is la Serenissima, in which we encounter the lesser-known, often dark sides of Venice. Currently comprising over six pieces, more works are to be included in years to come. In 2007 the composer started a new series-in-progress called Riflessi, which consists exclusively of companion pieces: each Riflesso explores the same exceptional scoring of a classic from the last century. And last but not least: Grand Atlas, a cycle started in 2011, in which each of the seven world continents is depicted in an orchestral composition.

Richard Rijnvos has received many high-profile commissions from eminent institutions, such as the Holland Festival and the NTR ZaterdagMatinee (Dutch Radio). His compositions have received performances all over the world by ensembles that include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil), Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra (South Korea), Columbus Symphony Orchestra (Ohio), and many others. Between 2011 and 2017 Richard Rijnvos served as long-term composer-in-residence with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.

He has been the recipient of several awards, including the Perspektief Prize in 1989 and the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize from the City of Amsterdam in 2000, the most prestigious award for composers from the Netherlands. An international jury voted his NYConcerto ‘the best composition premiered in the Netherlands in the year 2007’ and it subsequently received the Buma Toonzetters Award. In June 2011 Richard Rijnvos was awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize for the second time, on this occasion for the song cycle Die Kammersängerin.

In October 2009 Richard Rijnvos was appointed Head of Composition in the Music Department of Durham University. He was awarded a Higher Doctorate from the same UK institution in June 2012, and holds a Chair in Composition since 2014.

Further information

Richard Rijnvos has composed over 40 major works. A full catalogue of his compositions, multimedia works and recordings can be viewed at

Research interests

Composition (ensemble & orchestral)
New music aesthetics
Music of the New York School
Contemporary music from the Netherlands
Music notation

CD albums

Uptown|Downtown, an urban panorama in six movements (1996-2008) including:

NYConcerto for piano and chamber orchestra

Manhattan Square Dances for two identical orchestrasNetherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, John Snijders (piano), Celso Antunes (conductor) - Challenge Classics CC72538

Horizon 5 - Antarctique Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki - RCO LIVE RCO14001

Horizon 7 - fuoco e fumo Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Daniel Harding - RCO LIVE RCO16003

Horizon 9 - Amérique du Nord Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gustavo Gimeno - RCO LIVE RCO18009

Riflessi Ives Ensemble - RTF Classical | Nimbus NI6383



Supervision students