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Ton Koopman & Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

By his twenties, Antonius "Ton" Koopman was already carving a musical niche for himself and had begun to rise toward becoming one of the world's most prominent performers in the early music movement. He is a world-class performer both as a conductor and as a keyboardist. Ton Koopman was born in the Dutch town of Zwolle on October 12, 1944. After what he describes as a classical education, he went to Amsterdam to study organ (with Simon C. Jansen), harpsichord (with Gustav Leonhardt), and musicology. Koopman's musical interests from the outset centered upon the re-creation of older music on original instruments in a thoroughly researched historical performing style. He founded his first Baroque orchestra in 1966, followed by an exuberant career (40 years and counting) of mingled performance, conducting, and scholarship. As a keyboardist, Koopman has appeared on the most prestigious concert stages of five continents and has produced an extensive discography. He has concertized on many of the greatest historical organs throughout Europe. He plays harpsichord while leading the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir (both of which he also founded), in addition to giving regular guest performances with professional orchestras throughout the world. He has taught harpsichord at the Sweelinck Conservatory, serves as a professor of harpsichord at the Hague's Royal Conservatory, and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. Koopman's first international prizes -- a pair of Prix d'Excellence -- came for his performances on organ and harpsichord. Koopman's work as a conductor of early music has garnered him a wealth of further awards, including two Edison Prizes, a 3M Prize, a Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, a French Grand Prix du Disque and Prix Hector Berlioz, Grammy nominations in both the U.S. and Britain, and the Silver Phonograph from the Dutch recording industry. Much of his recorded work has been with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Together, Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque have produced scores of recordings; Biber, Charpentier, and Vivaldi, among many others, have been featured, though Koopman is best known now for his massive projects with recording the music of J.S. Bach. Between 1994 and 2004, he conducted and recorded the entire corpus of Bach's cantatas; other projects have included the complete Bach organ works and Passions (including Koopman's own reconstruction of the lost Markuspassion). He has said that he would not perform any music written after Mozart's death in 1791, but an exception was a 2007 recording of organ and harpsichord concertos by Francis Poulenc. In 2003, he formed Antoine Marchand Records, his own label. That same year, he was also admitted into the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Koopman became artist-in-residence with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2011 while continuing as a professor at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the University of Leiden. In the fall of 2021, he maintained a busy pandemic-era concert schedule as a conductor, harpsichord, and organist, including appearances in the U.S. with the National Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Koopman maintains an incredibly active schedule as a guest conductor, in addition to his performing career. He has recorded mostly for the Erato and Challenge Classics labels, and by the early 2020s, his catalog numbered at least 280 releases. In 2021, he was heard on Challenge Classics in a complete recording of the chamber music of Dietrich Buxtehude.
© Timothy Dickey & James Manheim /TiVo
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