Robin de Raaff was born on December 5, 1968 in Breda, the Netherlands. He was raised in a very musical family where classical music and popular music were part of his daily life. As a child he received weekly piano lessons from his father and practised daily. De Raaff discovered his own musical world through playing the bass guitar, which he taught himself to play. As a teenager, under the explosive influence of fretless bass guitar legend Jaco Pastorius, De Raaff switched to fretless bass guitar, introducing him to a new world of complex instrumental music, and ultimately Jazz.
But even more passionately, already as a young teenager, composing his own music was his most important musical expression. Starting with pop songs, with ever increasing instrumental parts, larger symphonic proportions were soon imposed which inevitably lead him towards the great classical composers. Inspired by this newly discovered music De Raaff developed a musical style for symphony orchestra installing the necessity to compose in full score. After enrolling as a composition student at the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam, playing the bass guitar moved to the background, but his very broad musical interest would greatly influence his view on style in contemporary Classical music.
De Raaff first studied composition with Geert van Keulen and later with Theo Loevendie, with whom he graduated cum laude in 1997. In 1999 De Raaff had the special privilege of being invited to work as George Benjamin’s only composition student at the Royal College of Music in London where he also studied with Julian Anderson.
De Raaff is currently the Coordinator of the Composition Department at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music (Codarts) where he has been a professor of composition and orchestration since 2001.