Simon Murphy (conductor)

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Simon Francis Murphy (born 26 August 1973 in Balmain, Sydney) is an international award winning, Dutch based, Australian conductor and viola player with a focus on the music of the 18th and early 19th centuries.[1]

He is a leading member of the new generation of specialist early music performers,[2] is regularly invited to conduct at the celebrated European music festivals, and is, since 2002, the chief conductor and artistic director of The Hague's Baroque Orchestra, The New Dutch Academy (NDA).[3]

Murphy has won major music industry awards, including the Dutch Edison Award (in 2004) and Luxembourg's Supersonic Award (in 2006).[4] His groundbreaking performance of Corelli's Concerti Grossi at the Utrecht Early Music Festival in 2003, recorded for CD by Pentatone, was chosen as one of the top 5 highlights of the festival's 30-year history.[5] Murphy made his Amsterdam Het Concertgebouw and Brussels Le Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR / Centre for Fine Arts) conducting débuts in 2004, and his débuts at the Handel Festival, Halle, in 2008 and Bachfest Leipzig in 2010.

Murphy is especially notable for his pioneering work in rediscovering and reintroducing forgotten 18th century, European, symphonic composers, particularly from and related to the Mannheim School (Mannheimer Schule). He has substantially enriched the modern symphonic, orchestral repertoire with his discoveries.

Resulting from his research, Murphy has also been responsible for unveiling the previously unknown Dutch 18th century symphonic tradition, presenting this to the world through performances, radio and TV broadcasts, and the first CD recordings of this symphonic heritage. In particular, he has championed 18th-century composers Joseph Schmitt "The Dutch Haydn" and Francesco Zappa, making first CD recordings and new editions of their symphonic works.[6]

Profile and reputation[edit]

Praised as "a repertoire-refresher" by France's Diapason,[7] "a musician with "guts": a conductor with the passion and conviction of a born missionary" by De Volkskrant,[8] and "The hottest property on the European baroque scene" by The Australian,[2] Murphy has won international recognition for his performances of established orchestral repertoire as well as for his work in bringing new, rediscovered masterworks to life on the concert platform and on disc.

Murphy was awarded the Edison Music Award for his first recordings of "Mannheimer Schule" symphonies, was labelled as "a conductor to watch for" by the American Record Guide,[9] and has had his performances referred to as "18th century rock 'n roll!" by Dutch classical music magazine Luister [nl].[10]


Murphy's performances in the low countries have included cycles of Stamitz,[11] Mozart,[12] Haydn,[13] Beethoven[14] and Mendelssohn symphonies for Dutch radio at Amsterdam's Het Concertgebouw, Rotterdam's De Doelen, Utrecht's Vredenburg and The Hague's Philipszaal.[15]

His major European festival appearances have included productions for the Händel Festspiele Halle [de],[16] Bachfest Leipzig,[17][18] Thüringer Bachwochen,[19] Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci [de],[20] Roma Europa Festival [it], Goldberg Festival, and the Festival van Vlaanderen (Festival of Flanders).

International concert touring has taken Murphy through Europe, the US, Canada, Russia, Asia and Australia. His live concert performances have been broadcast by NTR, AVRO, RNW, EBU, DLF, MDR, RAI and ABC.

His work with the New Dutch Academy in The Hague has included establishing the orchestra's symphonic, Baroque and chamber concert series in its home city, as well as creating new stage productions, festivals and outreach programmes. His programming with the orchestra has included instrumental, vocal, symphonic and operatic repertoire, ranging from Corelli, Bach and Handel through to Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Cimarosa, Paisiello, Rossini, Mendelssohn and Lortzing.

Murphy's most recent stage production with the New Dutch Academy celebrated the infamous 18th century singer, actress, impresario and entrepreneur "Mrs Cornelys" (aka Teresa Cornelys) and her London circle of Bach, Abel, Garrick, Gainsborough and Casanova, and was created together with the American Baroque dancer and choreographer, Caroline Copeland. The production received its première in The Hague in 2012.


Murphy's discography includes world première presentations of works of 18th century symphonists Stamitz, Richter, Schmitt ("The Dutch Haydn"), Graaf [nl], Schwindl [de] and Zappa.

His CD of Corelli's Concerti Grossi, made during the 2003 Utrecht Early Music Festival, was the first disc to ever present Corelli's own large scale, authentic orchestral soundscape, featuring Corelli's preferred instrumentation with lost of continuo instruments (cello, bass, organs, harpsichords, baroque lutes, baroque guitars, archlutes and theorbos) and improvisation and extemporisation. It was voted by Dutch national radio as one of the top 5 highlights in the 30-year history of the festival[5] and was reviewed by the BBC Music Magazine as "the best of both worlds ... the NDA is a big band playing on period instruments".[21]

Murphy's CDs for PENTATONE include Early Mannheim String Symphonies by Stamitz and Richter Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003 and 2004), Corelli Concerti Grossi (2004), Joseph Schmitt "The Dutch Haydn" Early Symphonies (2006) and Zappa Symphonies / Symphonies from the Court of Orange, The Hague (2009).[1][6] His latest release on PENTATONE, Baroque Roadtrip (2017) features works by Telemann, Vivaldi, van Wassenaer, and Bach. His live performances have been featured on live CD sets by the Dutch national broadcaster and include performances of Mozart[12] and Beethoven[22][23][24] Symphonies.

Other honours[edit]

For the visit of the Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to Italy in 2004, Murphy was chosen to programme and conduct the Royal Command Performance given in Rome's Palazzo Quirinale, broadcast live on RAI.

Murphy arranged and conducted the music for the 400-year, bilateral celebrations between Australia and the Netherlands in 2006, in both countries. In 2009, he was chosen to represent the Netherlands at the Cultural Olympiade in Vancouver, Canada and at the Hudson 400 celebrations in New York.

In 2005 Murphy's performance of Mozart Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter) in the Utrecht Early Music Festival was chosen by the Dutch world service (RNW) as one of the highlights of the whole Dutch cultural season 2005–2006 and was featured in a series of live discs by the RNW. His performance of Beethoven 1 in 2007 in the concert hall De Doelen, Rotterdam was chosen by Dutch broadcaster NPS as a highlight out of hundreds of hours of live recorded concerts in the radio's archives and was featured in 2010 in a series of live NPS portrait CDs in co-operation together with the low countries' classical music magazine Luister.[22][23][24]

Murphy was appointed, in 2012, as artistic advisor and music programmer to The Hague's "Life I Live" festival.

Education and early years[edit]

Murphy received his early, music tutition as a music scholar at the Scots College in Sydney. He completed his undergraduate studies in the areas of music performance, musicology and fine arts at the University of Sydney in 1996. He studied the viola with Russian-Australian Leonid Volovelsky and early music performance with Hans-Dieter Michatz and Geoffrey Lancaster. He taught at The University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, and played in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under conductors David Porcelijn and Hans Vonk.

Murphy moved to the Netherlands in 1996 where he was further educated by the leading lights of the Dutch early music revival. He studied baroque viola with Alda Stuurop at the Utrechts Conservatorium (between 1996 and 1999) and performed extensively with legendary figures including Frans Brüggen and Gustav Leonhardt in leading European authentic instrument ensembles such as The Orchestra of the 18th Century. Between 2000 and 2005, Murphy was also the violist of The Amsterdam String Quartet.

For his study, he was awarded grants by the Sir Ian Potter Foundation and the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund.


Alongside his conducting activities, Murphy is active as a viola soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, also performing on Bach's own hand-held violoncello piccolo (also known as the viola da spalla or viola pomposa). On this instrument, he was invited to give a special of recitals in original Bach castles as part of the Bachfest Leipzig and Thüringer Bachwochen.[19]

His regular recital partners include harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, lutenist/guitarist Karl Nyhlin and fortepianist Shuann Chai.


Murphy has given masterclasses, workshops and lecture-recitals at international institutions including The Royal Conservatory of The Hague; The Royal College of Music, Stockholm; The Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Central Conservatory, Beijing; The Glinka Conservatorium, Nizhny Novgorod; and The Getty Center, Los Angeles on topics including historically informed performance.


  1. ^ a b Murphy, Simon. "Artist's Bio". Artist's Website. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "CD Review". The Australian. Spring. 2004.
  3. ^ "The New Dutch Academy". New Dutch Academy. Archived from the original on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  4. ^ "TV Recording Gala Presentation Ceremony Edison Music Awards 2004, Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam". Dutch National Broadcaster. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Top 5 Downloads". Dutch National Broadcaster.
  6. ^ a b "Pentatone". Pentatone.
  7. ^ "CD Review". Diapason. Autumn. 2009.
  8. ^ de Beer, Roland. "Barokspeler met guts". De Volkskrant. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  9. ^ "CD Review". American Record Guide. Summer. 2010.
  10. ^ "CD Review". Luister. 666. 2010.
  11. ^ "Stamitz Symphony in C Live". De Bijloke Gent / Klara.
  12. ^ a b "Mozart 41 Live". RNW.
  13. ^ "Haydn Symphony 101 "The Clock" Live". Philipszaal / Dutch radio.
  14. ^ "Beethoven Symphony 2 Live". Philipszaal / Dutch radio.
  15. ^ "Rossini Aria". Philipszaal / Dutch radio.
  16. ^ "Handel Water Music" (PDF). Händel Festspiele Halle.
  17. ^ "Bachfest Concert Listing 2010". Concert Listing.
  18. ^ "Bachfest Leipzig". Bachfest Leipzig.
  19. ^ a b Hildebrandt, Toni (11 April 2009). "Auf Bachs eigenem Cello". Klassik. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  20. ^ "Wege zu Mozart" (PDF). Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci.
  21. ^ Bolton, Kate. "Size Matters". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  22. ^ a b "Luister CD". Luister. 666. 2010.
  23. ^ a b "Luister Portrait CD". Luister and NPS.
  24. ^ a b "Luister Portrait CD". Luister and NPS.

External links[edit]