Ed Spanjaard studied piano and conducting in Amsterdam and London. He started his career as répétiteur at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Bayreuther Wagner-Festspiele; his love for opera stems from this background. Spanjaard has conducted many new productions including Così fan tutte (with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century), Der Ring des Nibelungen (Dutch Touring Opera), Pelléas et Mélisande (Lyon) and several chamber operas by Guo Wenjing (Holland Festival, Paris, Fra
His long and successful conductorship of the Nieuw Ensemble has resulted in numerous premieres and tours, including visits to international festivals in Edinburgh, Berlin, Venice and Shanghai. Intensive and fruitful collaborations with composers have led to many new works and to CD recordings (Carter, Harvey, Ferneyhough, Donatoni, Loevendie among others).
As a symphonic conductor, Spanjaard built a large orchestra repertoire in his years as Chief Conductor at the Limburgs Symphony Orchestra, with programmes dedicated to single composers (Messiaen, Ravel, Dvořák, Bartók), and also with special semi-staged performances such as Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien in which – at Spanjaard’s request – a new text and choreography were provided by Ramsey Nasr and Toer van Schayk respectively. Besides this, he has been a regular guest conductor at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra since 2001, where he has been invited several times for French music (Debussy, Dukas, Roussel), but is also appreciated for his approach to symphonies such as Brahms’ Second and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth.
Spanjaard has successfully conducted, among others, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris), Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt) and the Klangforum Wien. During the royal wedding of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima in 2002, Spanjaard provided the music as conductor and pianist. Spanjaard has conducted the The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra on several occasions, including a memorable production of Verdi’s Aida in Amsterdam, and for recordings in the renowned series ‘Four Hundred Years of Dutch Music.’
As a pianist, Spanjaard has specialized in song accompaniment. He performed regularly with Elly Ameling. More recently he performed in concert with Maarten Koningberger, with whom he recorded a CD featuring Mahler’s songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
In the last seasons, he accompanied a.o. Pieter Wispelwey and Cora Burggraaf. Spanjaard’s recordings cover a broad repertoire, ranging from Mozart concert arias with Lenneke Ruiten, to Edison Award-winning contemporary works by Ton de Leeuw and Rudolf Escher with the Nederlands Kamerkoor, to a DVD of Boulez’ Éclat (by cinematographer Frank Scheffer) in collaboration with the composer, and ‘Broken Silence’, a film about Chinese composers, by Eline Flipse.
Since September 2012, Ed Spanjaard has been Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. In 2016 he made his debut with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducting Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem, and with the Aalto Opera, Essen, with Wagners’ Fliegende Holländer. There he performed Strauss’ Heldenleben and Puccini’s Turandot since.
In Amsterdam a stunning major new work by Joel Bons: Nomaden for the international Atlas-ensemble and soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras will be revived at the Cello Biënnale 2018.
Ed Spanjaard is principal conductor of Orkest van het Oosten/Netherlands Symphony Orchestra from season 2017/18. With this orchestra he will appear twice in the Concertgebouw this summer, with programs including Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique and César Francks’ Symphony in D.