Birth: Oct 12, 1944 in Zwolle, The Netherlands
Genre: Concerto, Choral, Keyboard, Chamber Music
By his twenties, Antonius "Ton" Koopman was already carving a musical niche for himself in which he would rise to become one of the world's most prominent performers in the early music movement. Koopman was born in the Dutch town of Zwolle in 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 musics on their 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, Ton Koopman has appeared on the most prestigious concert stages of five continents and has produced an extensive discography on Erato, Philips, Sony, Teldec, and other labels. 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 period instrument ensemble the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, which he founded in 1979. Together, Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque have produced scores of recordings; Biber, Charpentier, Handel, Mozart, Purcell, and Vivaldi 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). Finally, Koopman maintains an incredibly active schedule as guest conductor, as well as a lengthy publishing career.
- Timothy Dickey (All Music Guide)
Performing artist and scholar in one, Ton Koopman studied organ with Simon C. Jansen, harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt and musicology at Amsterdam University.
He was among the first to recognise the significance of early fingerings and articulation and is a leading champion of authenticity in performance practice. Koopman's fine reputation at home and abroad rests on his combination of virtuosity and strong musical personality with an intense interest in firsthand study of original source materials. He has successfully integrated many of his findings into music-making that is as informed as it is spontaneous.
As founder and music director of several ensembles, Ton Koopman has made a major contribution to the revival of interest in baroque music on authentic instruments with a style of performance that is true to period tradition. He founded The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestras late 1979 as a top-class ensemble of internationally-reputed Baroque specialists. Ton Koopman frequently works with the Netherlands Chamber Choir.