Henk de Graaf was born in Spakenburg, the Netherlands. He studied with Jos d'Hondt at the Utrecht Conservatory. In 1970 he graduated with honours and in 1973 he was awarded the "Prix d'Exellence."
In 1975 he joined the Rotterdam Philharmonic orchestra as principal clarinet. With this orchestra he performed concertos by Mozart and Von Weber, and, on tour in America, the Lindpainter Concerto.
For several years, Henk de Graaf has played in various chamber music ensembles and with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. Among the many recordings he made are a CD with romantic clarinet trios by Mozart, Schumann and Bruch; and a CD with the Clarinet Sonatas opus 120 by Brahms, a recording on which he is accompanied by the famous Dutch pianist Daniel Wayenberg.
At the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his appointment as solo clarinettist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Henk de Graaf recorded a Mozart CD which included the Clarinet Concerto in A major KV 622.
In addition, De Graaf recorded chamber music by Von Weber, Baermann, Crusell and Spohr, and a CD featuring clarinet trios by Beethoven, Glinka, Brahms, and Zemlinsky. On this last CD he again collaborated with Daniel Wayenberg. It was the first time this repertoire was recorded by a Dutch clarinettist. In co-operation with the Netherlands Wind Soloists and the Hungarian pianist Klara Wurtz, he recorded the piano quintet op. 16 by Beethoven, and Mozart's Piano Quintet KV 452. Subsequently, de Graaf recorded Six Quartets by Rossini with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Wind Soloists. The Dutch National television made video and TV recordings of all these CD's.
In collaboration with pianist and organist Klaas Jan Mulder, Henk de Graaf issued a CD with mostly slow works by Rachmaninov, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Mascagni, Baermann, Guilmant, Dvorak and Chopin. More recent CD's include an ambitious project in which De Graaf and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Wind Ensemble recorded six CD's containing all Mozart's Divertimenti and Serenades for winds; a CD with French impressionist music (including the Ravel Septet) played by an ensemble from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and a CD titled "Memories Gone By" which was made in co-operation with soprano Clara de Vries, alto Jose Scholte and Pianist Daniel Wayenberg, and includes compositions by Mozart, Schubert, Mahler and Janacek.
With this last pianist, he also recorded a double CD with famous French, German, English and Russian repertoire for clarinet and piano. This CD includes works by Poulenc, Debussy, Saint-Saens, Busser, Martinu, Arnold, Stravinsky, Von Weber, Genzmer, Schumann, Berg and Mendelssohn, and will be released early 2004.
For 25 years, Henk de Graaf has been a teacher at the school for Music and Theatre in Rotterdam, and at the Amsterdam School of the Arts.
Henk de Graaf also works as a conductor, and assists conductors like the Dutch conductor Jan Stulen at the Dutch Promenade Orchestra and the Flanders Symphony Orchestra.