The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra was formed in 1985 by the merger of the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. The Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra traces its history to 1953. It was founded by conductor Anton Kersjes, a well-known figure of the day who had his own weekly television programme. He succeeded in bringing a new public to the concert hall, introducing them to the ‘golden masterworks’ of the orchestral repertoire. Kersjes was not only a very able conductor but could enthral an audience with engaging stories about classical music and composers.
Marc Albrecht was appointed chief conductor of the NedPhO|NKO and the Dutch National Opera in 2011. In fact, the successful collaboration began three years earlier, in 2008, when he was invited to conduct Richard Strauss’ opera Die Frau ohne Schatten in Amsterdam. There was an immediate rapport and the conductor raised the orchestra’s playing to unprecedented heights. “There was so much mutual trust that the impossible suddenly became possible,” recalls one member. “We yearned to do it differently and even better with each performance.”
Marc Albrecht’s arrival coincided with the move from the Beurs van Berlage building to the NedPhO-Koepel, a former church close to Muiderpoort station in the east of the city. It is here that the orchestras rehearse for their concerts in the Royal Concertgebouw, the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, the National Opera and other leading venues at home and abroad.
The Dutch National Opera
NedPhO|NKO has been the ‘house orchestra’ of the Dutch National Opera since 1985. Hartmut Haenchen was the first principal conductor to take on this remarkable double role. He has been ably succeeded by Marc Albrecht, under whose baton the orchestra has received widespread acclaim for its sensitive readings of operas as diverse as Enescu’s Oedipe, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Eine florentinische Tragödie by Alexander von Zemlinsky.
Over the years, the orchestra has established a strong Mahler tradition and the works of this brilliant composer feature prominently in its concert programmes. “The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has a natural affinity with the style of the late-Romantic era and early twentieth century. The musicians really understand the language of Gustav Mahler,” states Marc Albrecht when describing the special relationship he and the orchestra have with the Austrian composer. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra is also renowned for its interpretations of other late-Romantic composers, whether Brahms and Bruckner in the concert hall or Strauss and Wagner in the opera house.