Jan-Peter de Graaff

Netherlands, 1992


"De Graaff is een alleskunner en een echte en helder opflitsende komeet aan het muzikale firmament die aan niemand ongemerkt voorbij kan gaan." - Maarten Brandt, Opus Klassiek
"De Graaff is een tovenaar met orkestkleuren in een taal die weliswaar van nu is, maar harmonisch ook vaak vertrouwd klinkt." - Paul Herruer, Dagblad van het Noorden
"De Graaffs grootste kracht schuilt in een paradox: stilstand die zindert van spanning." - Guido van Oorschot, De Volkskrant 
"Zijn muziek is in essentie atonaal, maar doordat ze niet is doodgesystematiseerd en De Graaff in de contouren en het verloop van zijn melodieën nog steeds romantisch durft te zijn, wordt de luisteraar met zachte, maar dwingende hand meegevoerd in het abstracte verhaal dat hij wil vertellen. Een grote troef is hierbij zijn orkestratiekunst. De muziek is kleurrijk, blijft altijd helder en verrassend." - Erik Voermans, Het Parool
"Had iemand mij van te voren voorspeld dat in een programma van Bach, Bartók en Jan-Peter de Graaff het stuk van de laatste mij het meest zou boeien, dan had ik dat niet geloofd. - Dingeman van Wijnen, Friesch Dagblad


Many of his compositions are recognised by a great amount of transparency and use of colour in harmony, structure and orchestration, with an important focus on dramatic arcs and melodic development, usually guided by striking rhythms. De Graaff’s works are inspired by a great amount of musical styles and idioms ranging from French baroque, Eastern and Northern European folk music traditions, to spectralism, jazz, tango and early Hollywood music. From these inspirations, De Graaff creates a musical language that feels familiar, yet still remains completely authentic in the way these influences are incorporated in larger structures, melodies and harmonic progressions. Avoiding clichés, or manipulating them to reveal a completely different musical universe behind it, one can see many of his works as a painting that has another painting under its surface layers, subtly shining through.

De Graaff’s oeuvre includes now about 50 works for various instrumentations, from solo and chamber music (both instrumental and vocal) to pieces for orchestra and Music Theatre. His music has been performed and commissioned by a great variety in orchestras and ensembles, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, the Residentie Orchestra (The Hague Philharmonic), the David Kweksilber Big Band, Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, Netherlands Chamber Choir, Ruysdael String Quartet, Maya Fridman, Pieter van Loenen and Duo Kolthof & Van Raat. Performances took place in venues and music festivals both in The Netherlands and abroad. Several works have been recorded on CD and are available on the TRPTK label.

Other pursuits

De Synode, chamber opera (2019)
"Composer Jan-Peter de Graaff, just in his late twenties, did provide them [the cast] with comfortable, singable lines, which are accompanied, at many times even pierced by multifunctional sound sculptures, performed by the 6-part ensemble Shapeshift. In contrast with spicy tutti's there are subtle pizzicato sections, the tonally oriented idiom always finds a way to keep your attention, not even mentioning the subtle hints at church chorals and 17th century folk songs"
- Frits van der Waa, Volkskrant

Jutters, violin solo (2019)
"If someone predicted me that in a programme featuring Bach, Bartók and Jan-Peter de Graaff the composition of the latter would interest me the most, I would not have believed that person. Still it was the case. Pieter performed the piece with great dedication [...] De Graaff's new work was bursting with (literal) freshness, it was 'playing' in the double sense of the word [...] How De Graaff ended up at Folk Tunes from Terschelling [...], via beautiful outflanking pathways, full of structure while being unpredictable, was a captivating experience for the listener."
- Dingeman van Wijnen, Friesch Dagblad

Le café de nuit, symphonic work (2018)
"De Graaff, who grew op on the Isle of Terschelling and studied at The Hague Conservatory, succeeds well, in the grossly 13-minute long, intriguing orchestral work, to summon an atmosphere of hedonism and constant threat. Stylistically, the piece flows in every direction, tonality is not eschewed and his control of the orchestral palet is remarkable for someone of 26 years old. Go listen!"
- Erik Voermans, Parool


Jan-Peter de Graaff (*1992), born in Papendrecht and raised on the isle of Terschelling, started composing at the age of 15. After two years of private lessons in composition with Klaas ten Holt, he was admitted to the Bachelor studies in Musical Composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague in 2010, where he studied with Guus Janssen, Calliope Tsoupaki and Diderik Wagenaar (BMus 2014, MMus 2016). During his final year he took part in an Erasmus+ exchange programme which allowed him to study at the Royal College of Music (London) with prof. Kenneth Hesketh. During his composition studies, he studied orchestral conducting with Alex Schillings and Jos Vermunt as a minor subject.

Live performances of Jan-Peter de Graaff’s works

Les Cymbales Sonores

Jan-Peter de Graaff on Spotify

Jan-Peter de Graaff on SoundCloud

Recently published works by Jan-Peter de Graaff