We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.



Professor Richard Rijnvos, DMus (Dunelm), MA Hons (Royal Conservatoire, The Hague)

Head of Composition in the Department of Music
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43142
Room number: 119, 48-49 North Bailey

Contact Professor Richard Rijnvos


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 has tended to work on compositions that form part of larger series, beginning with Stanza, which exists in diatonic, chromatic and microtonal versions. The eighty-minute cycle Block Beuys, which was composed between 1995 and 2000, was inspired by the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt collection of the same name which houses artefacts created by the German visual artist Joseph Beuys: each of the cycle’s seven sections depicts one of the collection’s seven rooms.

In 2008, he completed Uptown|Downtown, an urban panorama in six ‘movements’, which is conceived as an evening-long dance production evoking city life in Manhattan. La Serenissima is the title of a series of works portraying ‘the city of Venice and its shadows’. In 2007, he commenced a new series entitled Riflessi, which consists exclusively of companion pieces: each Riflesso explores the timbral and textural possibilities afforded by the instrumental forces of an existing classic by a composer from the past. In May 2010 his song cycle Die Kammersängerin – on poems by Ernst Jandl – was premiered in a fully staged performance.

Richard Rijnvos has received many high-profile commissions from eminent performing groups such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain. His compositions have been featured in leading international festivals and have received performances all over the world by ensembles that include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, London Sinfonietta, and many others. In September 2011 Richard Rijnvos started a long-term residency with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

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 working in the Netherlands. Last year 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.

Richard Rijnvos is also active as a conductor, and holds the position of artistic advisor with the Ives Ensemble (a group for new music based in Amsterdam), having acted as its managing director from 1991 until the year 2000.

Further information

Richard Rijnvos has composed over 30 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

Selected CD Recordings

Uptown|Downtown, an urban panorama in six movements (1996-2008) including
NYConcerto for piano and chamber orchestra
Manhattan Square Dances for two identical orchestras
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic
John Snijders (piano), Celso Antunes (conductor) - Challenge Classics CC72538

Selected Publications


Show all publications