Reinbert de Leeuw was born on January 17, 1938 in Amsterdam.
He studied piano and music theory at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and composition with Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.
In 1974, Reinbert founded the Schönberg Ensemble, which got a great reputation since performing the complete chamber works of Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg.
He is a regular guest conductor in France, Germany, England, Belgium, the United States (Tanglewood Festival, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center Chamber Music Group New York, Aspen, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; he also lectures at the Juilliard School of Music in New York), Japan, and Australia, where he served as artistic advisor for the contemporary music series of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2004.
Reinbert de Leeuw has been co-founder and from 2001-2010 artistic director of the Summer Academy, the international orchestra and ensemble academy of the National Youth Orchestra in The Netherlands. He was the guest artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival (Suffolk) in 1992 and of the Tanglewood Festival (USA) from 1994 to 1998.
Also, Reinbert is author of a book on Charles Ives and a book with musical essays, and he has collaborated on eight film documentary series of 20th-century composers, such as Messiaen, Ligeti, Gubaidulina, Vivier, and Górecki. The series have been shown on Dutch television and won international acclaim.
Since 2004 he is a professor at the Leiden University in “performing and creative arts of the 19th, 20th and 21st century”.
Together with Louis Andriessen, Misha Mengelberg, Peter Schat, Jan van Vlijmen, Hugo Claus en Harry Mulisch, Reinbert de Leeuw composed the opera ‘Reconstructie’, which was performed during the Holland Festival 1969.
Reinbert de Leeuw has been involved in various other opera productions, at the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam. Together with Jan van Vlijmen, he composed the opera ‘Axel’ in 1977.
Besides chamber music, he also composed, for example, ‘Hymns and Chorals‘ for wind ensemble, electric guitars and electronic organ (1970) and ‘Abschied, symphonische Dichtung für grosses Orchester‘ (1973).
Reinbert de Leeuw has received the Sikkens Award (1991), due to the way in which he uses color in non-visual expressions. A year later, he received the prestigious 3M prize (1992).
In March 1994, Reinbert was made Honorary Doctor at the University of Utrecht for his work as pianist and conductor of the Schönberg Ensemble. His recordings as a pianist have won many prizes, including the Dutch Edison, the Premio della critica discografica Italiana, the Grand Prix of the Hungarian Liszt Society and the Diapason D’Or.
For his services and importance to music and culture in The Netherlands, Reinbert has been knighted in the Order of the Dutch Lion, on September 8, 2008.