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portretfoto Ernst Reijseger


13-11-1954 - current


cello, componist, contemporary classical music, improvised, jazz, score, world


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Ernst Reijseger

The talent of Ernst Reijseger (Naarden, 13 November 1954) as a cellist is recognized at an early age. As a teenager he is taught by baroque specialist Anner Bijlsma and he starts attending the Amsterdam conservatory. He drops out early to engage himself in the world of improvised music. He ...
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cello, componist

Mentioned in the biography of

1969   Burton Greene
1975   Sean Bergin
1976   Alan Purves
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Biography Ernst Reijseger

The talent of Ernst Reijseger (Naarden, 13 November 1954) as a cellist is recognized at an early age. As a teenager he is taught by baroque specialist Anner Bijlsma and he starts attending the Amsterdam conservatory. He drops out early to engage himself in the world of improvised music. He develops a truly physical style of playing and a broad vocabulary of unorthodox techniques. More so than other cellists he plays pizzicato, plucking the strings like a jazz bassist or strumming them, holding the instrument in a guitar posture. He plays the soundbox like a percussion instrument, taking his inspiration from non-western music. He is experimenting permanently - imitating sounds and interacting with the audience are important starting points for him. In the late 1970s he performs with bands from the Amsterdam improv scene, like the ICP Orchestra and the Theo Loevendie Consort. Together with violist Maurice Horsthuis and double bassist Ernst Glerum he forms the successful Amsterdam String Trio, which balances between jazz, classical and contemporary music. In 1985 he is awarded the Boy Edgar Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award). He regularly gives solo concerts and seeks musical depth in non-western music. In 1995 he receives the Bird Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Reijseger gains international success as a solo artist and as a member of the Clusone Trio, the Arcado String Trio and the Gerry Hemingway Quintet. He composes and performs soundtracks for a number of films by director Werner Herzog. In 2010 his solo album Tell Me Everything is awarded an Edison (Dutch Grammy).

Played in

Baraná   cello
Boi Akih   cello

1954 - 1974

At the age of eight Ernst Reijseger starts playing the cello in his hometown Bussum. In 1968, he participates as his high school’s entry in a regional school competition and wins the under-16 classical music award. This draws the attention of a couple of seniors at his school: Jurre Haanstra, Leo Samama and Willem Jan Otten. They introduce him to jazz, ethnic music, modern classical music and improvised music. In 1972 he starts playing the electric cello in the band Banten, featuring Haanstra and bass player Arnold Dooyeweerd. Banten releases one album in 1972. In 1973 Reijseger guests on the symphonic rock band Kayak’s debut album See The Sun. He starts taking lessons from Anner Bijlsma, at the time the principal cellist of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Bijlsma motivates him to take the entrance exam for the Amsterdam conservatory. In 1974, during his first year at the conservatory, it is Bijlsma himself who advises him to quit the study and go his own way. 'He never gave me the idea that I was sent away for incompetence, while I was completely unfit for conservatory training at the time,’ Reijseger later stated in an interview with newspaper De Volkskrant.

Anner Bijlsma Banten Kayak

1975 - 1984

In his work with street theater groups Reijseger gets to know other improvising musicians, including the Amsterdam based American pianist Burton Greene. In the latter’s band the cellist starts exploring the walking bass technique, as used by jazz bassists. He makes music for the first Dutch episodes of Sesame Street with the South African born and Amsterdam based saxophonist Sean Bergin. Reijseger joins the scene associated with the Bimhuis, which opened its doors in 1974. There he performs with Bergin’s bands and with the American musicians Michael Moore and Michael Vatcher. In 1979 the Bergin-Reijseger duo releases the LP Mistakes. The cellist also performs music for the theater production Oorlog en Pap by performance poet Johnny van Doorn. 1981 sees the release of Reijseger’s first solo album. He forms a duo with the Scottish percussionist Alan Purves, who is also active in the Bimhuis scene. Reijseger plays at international improvisation festivals with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Joëlle Léandre and others. He joins the ICP Orchestra and the Theo Loevendie Consort. In addition to solo performances, where he employs his complete bag of tricks, he plays in bands led by reedists André Goudbeek, Paul Termos and Michael Moore and trombonist Conrad Bauer. In 1984 he forms a trio with violist Maurice Horsthuis and double bassist Ernst Glerum, which develops into the Amsterdam String Trio. Their music is an amalgam of jazz, improvisation, classical and contemporary music.

Alan Purves Burton Greene Michael Moore Michael Vatcher Sean Bergin

1985 - 1994

On 19 October 1985 Ernst Reijseger receives the Boy Edgar Prijs at the Bimhuis. The award ceremony, presented by comedian Wim de Bie, features improvisers as well as his former teacher Anner Bijlsma and classical pianist Reinbert de Leeuw. Reijseger performs with the ICP, pianists Curtis Clark and Guus Janssen and guitarist Franky Douglas. With drummer Gerry Hemingway he forms an international quintet with a changing line-up. The band’s CDs are released internationally and are met with rave reviews in various publications, including the authoritative Penguin Guide To Jazz. In 1988 Reijseger organizes a gig with reedist Michael Moore, pianist Guus Janssen and drummer Han Bennink at the Clusone Festival in the North Italian mountain village of the same name. This is the start of the internationally successful Clusone Trio with ICP members Reijseger, Moore and Bennink. Reijseger also forms a new trio with the German pianist Georg Graewe and Gerry Hemingway. The cellist replaces Hank Roberts in the Arcado String Trio, the New York equivalent to the Amsterdam String Trio. In 1993 Reijseger is invited by Yo-Yo Ma for a duo performance at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw as part of a carte blanche program assembled by the world-famous cellist. Reijseger guests on the CD Crazy Saints by the Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu.

Franky Douglas Guus Janssen Han Bennink Instant Composers Pool

1995 - 1999

In 1995 Reijseger receives the Bird Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival, where he performs solo. In 1996 the Clusone Trio tours the Netherlands and Belgium with trumpeter Dave Douglas. Reijseger delves into non-western music in ensembles with Curaçao born guitarist Franky Douglas and the Senegalese singer-percussionist Mola Sylla. He performs in musical theater productions by Teo Joling. Reijseger forms a new trio with pianist Michiel Borstlap and trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. He signs with the prestigious German label Winter & Winter, which releases his solo CD Colla Parte in 1997. In 1998 the Amsterdam String Trio reassembles. Reijseger and Purves work with the Sardinian male chorus Tenore e Concordu de Orosei on the album Colla Voce. This combination also performs at the Holland Festival. At the 1999 North Sea Jazz Reijseger takes part in the Bird Winners Concert.

Eric Vloeimans Michiel Borstlap

2000 - 2005

In 2000 new CDs by the Amsterdam String Trio, the ICP Orchestra and the Gerry Hemingway Quartet are released. At the 2000 North Sea Jazz Reijseger performs with Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Yuri Honing. His duo with the Italian pianist Franco d'Andrea releases the CD I Love You So Much It Hurts in 2002. Reijseger frequently performs with a trio with Alan Purves and Mola Sylla, for which songs in Arabic and in the African Wolof language serve as a starting point. In 2003 he records the CD Janna, named after his adoptive daughter, featuring Sylla and the Senegalese percussionist Serigne C.M. Gueye. He works with international artists like Maria Pia de Vito, Simon Nabatov and Gerardo Gardini, for a project with the WDR Big Band. He also joins the new Dutch bands Barana & Co., led by the Turkish multi-instrumentalist Behsat Üvez, and Boi Akih, in which singer Monica Akihary performs Moluccan songs. For a number of years he is a member of Boompetit and Fugimundi, two bands led by trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. 2004 sees the start of his collaboration with the German film director Werner Herzog, when he composes music for the documentary The White Diamond. In 2005 he writes the soundtrack for Herzog’s feature film The Wild Blue Yonder. In 2005 he supplies a composition to the Zapp String Quartet, the title piece of their CD Passagio.

Misha Mengelberg Yuri Honing

2006 - 2008

Reijseger arranges the music singer/actor Felix Strategier writes to poems by the South African poetess Ingrid Jonker, for the production Korreltjie Korreltjie Sand by Theatergroep Flint. He performs original music at the first Cello Biënnale at the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in 2006. Reijseger’s film music for Herzog is released on the CD Requiem For A Dying Planet. This music is performed in its entirety at the Holland Festival a year later. In the same year the album Do You Still is released, which features Reijseger with classical cellist Larissa Groeneveld and pianist Frank van de Laar. Three tracks from this album are used by Herzog for his feature film Rescue Dawn. Reijseger composes a work for the Metropole Orkest. In 2008 he tours with accordionist Luciano Bondini and tuba player Michel Godard. In 2009 the solo album Tell Me Everything is released, and Reijseger composes the soundtrack for My Son My Son What Have Ye Done, Herzog’s new feature film, produced by David Lynch. For this music he is joined by Purves, Sylla, Biondini, pianist Harmen Fraanje, tabla player Sandip Bhattacharya and four other cellists.

Harmen Fraanje Larissa Groeneveld Metropole Orkest

2010 - 2011

In 2010 Reijseger is awarded an Edison Klassiek (Dutch classical Grammy) in the ‘contemporary’ category for the CD Tell Me Everything. He is also awarded a Gouden Kalf (Dutch Oscar) for the soundtrack he composed for C'est Déjà l'Été, Martijn Maria Smits’s feature film debut. Having played an acoustic four cello for so many years, Reijseger switches to a new five string instrument in 2010. He performs at the 2010 Cello Biënnale with Giovanni Sollima and the Mega Kinder Cello Orkest, a special orchestra of 140 young cellists. On 8 november 2010 Reijseger, Sylla and the band Groove Lélé receive the best album award at the Trophée Des Arts Afro-Caribéens for their CD Zembrocal Musical. In 2011 Reijseger composes music for choreographer Andrea Boll, performed by the Corsican male chorus A Filetta and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. He can be heard on the CD Close Enough by saxophonist Paul van Kemenade, which receives international critical acclaim. In 2011 the CD with Reijseger’s music for Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary by Werner Herzog, is released, featuring Sean Bergin, Harmen Fraanje and the Netherlands Chamber Choir.

Nederlands Blazers Ensemble Nederlands Kamerkoor Paul van Kemenade

Discography Ernst Reijseger

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

Photos Ernst Reijseger

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