Robin de Raaff (Breda, 1968) discovered his own diverse musical world through playing classical piano as well as bass guitar from a very early age. After being introduced to the legend and legacy of Jaco Pastorius, De Raaff’s musical world expanded explosively as an instrumentalist. Parallel with this early development, De Raaff also created his own music and lyrics for his Band where instrumental sections grew in significance, ultimately in to completely scored instrumental works. These instrumental compositions led him to enrol as a student of composition.
De Raaff is of the generation of Dutch composers emerging in the nineties. He first studied composition with Geert van Keulen at the Amsterdam Conservatory and later with Theo Loevendie, graduating cum laude in 1997. In 1999 De Raaff had the 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.
In 2000 De Raaff was invited to the renowned Tanglewood Music Center as the ‘Senior Composition Fellow’ which was the beginning of an ongoing relationship resulting in a series of commissions (Piano Concerto for the Festival of Contemporary Music and Entangled Tales for the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and performances of his septet Ennea’s Domein and Un Visage d’Emprunt. For 2015 De Raaff was commissioned to compose a Fanfare dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Center. His residency at Tanglewood in 2000 was the beginning of a bigger exposure with performances and residencies in North America through festivals and theaters such as: The Aspen Music Festival, Cabrillo Festival (Santa Cruz), State of the Union Festival (London), ISCM World Music Days, The Banff Center, CBC Parry Sound Festival (Ontario), Takefu International Chamber Music Festival, Lincoln Center (New York), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, Betty Oliphant Theatre and Glenn Gould Studio (Toronto).
After a creative period of nearly 10 years, De Raaff finished his first opera RAAFF in 2004, which was commissioned by the Dutch National Opera in a co-production with the Holland Festival. The birth of this opera started with De Raaff’s success at a master class for young composers with Pierre Boulez organised by DNO in 1995.
His second opera, also commissioned by DNO and in both cases the libretto was written by Janine Brogt, resulted in Waiting for Miss Monroe (2012), which was received with much acclaim by the international press including Tagesspiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
De Raaff’s Violin Concerto No. 1 “Angelic echoes” (2008, written for Tasmin Little and Jaap van Zweden) was selected as the Best Orchestral Work of the year 2008 in the Dutch composition competition Toonzetters. His special interest in this genre led him to compose many Concertos of which his Percussion Concerto (2014 commissioned by The New Juilliard Ensemble and premiered in Lincoln Center), is the most recent one.
In september of 2016 his Oratorio “Atlantis”, an In Memoriam Pierre Boulez, was successfully premiered in Vredenburg, Utrecht.
In the beginning of 2017 his Symphony No. 4 “Melodies unheard” was successfully premiered in a concert-tour with the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra as part of his Composer in Residency.
This season, in the Kurt Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall, brings the world premiere of De Raaff’s 2nd Violin Sonata “North Atlantic Light” based on the famous painting by Willem de Kooning who was a fellow country man of De Raaff. This chamber work for Violin and Piano will be premiered by Tosca Opdam who will also perform the ultimate version of this work as his Violin Concerto No. 2 “North Atlantic Light”. This world premiere will take place on 17 and 20 May of 2019 in the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the orchestra will be the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Marc Albrecht.
For 17 successive years De Raaff has professor of Composition and Instrumentation at the Composition Department of the University of the Arts of Rotterdam, Codarts.