Philippe Herreweghe

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Philippe Herreweghe (born 2 May 1947, Ghent) is a Belgian conductor.

Philippe Herreweghe, 2011

Early life[edit]

Herreweghe received his first piano lessons from his mother.

In his school years at the University of Ghent, Herreweghe combined studies in medical science and psychiatry with a musical education at the Ghent Conservatory, where Marcel Gazelle, Yehudi Menuhin's accompanist, was his piano teacher.

Music career[edit]

In the same period, he began conducting and in 1969[1] he founded the Collegium Vocale Ghent with a group of fellow students.

Very soon Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt took notice of his musical approach, and invited him and the "Collegium Vocale Gent" to join them in their recordings of the complete Bach cantatas.

Herreweghe’s energetic, authentic and rhetorical approach to baroque music was soon drawing praise and in 1977 he founded another ensemble in Paris, La Chapelle Royale, to perform the music of the French Golden Age. From 1982 to 2002 he was artistic director of the Académies Musicales de Saintes.

During this period, Herreweghe started several other groups and ensembles with whom he made historically appropriate and well-thought-out interpretations of repertoire stretching from the Renaissance to contemporary music.They include the Ensemble Vocal Européen, specialised in Renaissance polyphony, and the Orchestre des Champs Élysées, founded in 1991 with the aim of playing Romantic and pre-Romantic repertoire on original instruments.

Philippe Herreweghe

Since 2009, Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent have been actively working on the development of a large European-level symphonic choir, at the invitation of the prestigious Accademia Chigiana in Siena and from 2011 with the support of the European Union’s Cultural Programm.

For some time Herreweghe has been active performing the great symphonic works, from Beethoven to Gustav Mahler. Since 1997 he is principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.

As a guest conductor, Philippe Herreweghe has conducted a number of well-known orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Dutch Broadcasting Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Philippe Herreweghe was artistic director of the Festival of Saintes and was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Netherlands’ Radio Chamber Philharmonic since 2008. .

He is principally known as a conductor of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is regarded by leading Bach scholars today as a founding father of the baroque authentic practice, original-instrument movement and one of record label Harmonia Mundi's most prolific recording artists, with over sixty albums to his name.

Selected discography[edit]

Over the years, Philippe Herreweghe has built up an extensive discography of more than 100 recordings with all these different ensembles, on such labels as Harmonia Mundi France, Virgin Classics and Pentatone. Highlights include the Lagrime di San Pietro of Lassus, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Schumann, Mahler’s song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5, Pierrot Lunaire by Schönberg, Weill's Violin Concerto, Berliner Requiem; Cantate vom Tod im Wald and the Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky. In 2010 he founded together with Outhere Music his own label φ (PHI), in order to give himself full artistic freedom to build up a rich and varied catalogue. Since then these recordings were published:

  • 2010: MAHLER, Gustav : Symphony no. 4 (LPH 001)
  • 2011: BACH, Johann Sebastian : Motets BWV 225-230 (LPH 002)
  • 2011: BRAHMS, Johannes : Werke für Chor und Orchester (LPH 003)
  • 2011: BACH, Johann Sebastian : Mass in B minor (LPH 004)
  • 2011: DE VICTORIA, Tomas Luis : Officium Defunctorum (LPH 005)
  • 2011: BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Missa Solemnis (LPH 007)
  • 2012: BACH, Johann Sebastian : Ach süsser Trost (LPH 006)
  • 2012: DVORAK, Antonin : Stabat Mater (LPH 009)
  • 2012: GESUALDO, Carlo : Responsoria 1611 (LPH 010)
  • 2012: MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus : The last Symphonies (LPH 011)
  • 2013: BACH, Johann Sebastian : Ich elender Mensch – Leipzig Cantates (LPH 012)
  • 2013: HAYDN, Joseph : die Jahreszeiten (LPH 013)
  • 2013: BYRD, William : Infelix ego – Mass for 5 voices (LPH 014)
  • 2014: DVORAK, Antonin: Requiem (LPH 016)
  • 2014: HAYDN, Joseph : Die Schöpfung (LPH 018)
  • 2014: SCHUBERT, Franz : Symfonie 1,3 & 4 (LPH 019)


Philippe Herreweghe has received numerous European awards:

  • In 1990 the European music press named him “Musical Personality of the Year”.
  • Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent were appointed “Cultural Ambassadors of Flanders” in 1993.
  • In 1994 he was awarded the Belgian order of Officier des Arts et Lettres
  • In 1997 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Leuven
  • In 2000 he received a knighthood from King Albert II.
  • In 2003 he received the French title Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
  • In 2010 the city of Leipzig awarded him its Bach-Medaille for his great service as a performer of Bach.


  1. ^ Herreweghe // The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2001.
Preceded by
Grant Llewellyn
Chief Conductor, DeFilharmonie
Succeeded by
Daniele Callegari