Concerto Cello solo - Ensemble - Workshop
Dutch cellist, composer & improvisor Ernst Reijseger is an influential improvising musician who developed a personal vocabulary on his instrument. Ernst Reijseger is a genre bender. His compositions and collaborations transcend musical styles and art forms. He is a creative partner of film- and theatre makers, actors, storytellers, poets, dancers, dj’s, painters, sculptors, photographers, glassblowers, inventors and horses.
Since 2004, Reijseger scored films for Werner Herzog, Alex and Andrew Smith and others. In
2013 Reijseger played in dialogue with paintings by Jerry Zeniuk by making a tour through the
gallery whilst playing (album Crystal Palace). Spring and summer 2017 he scored and
performed his music to Shakespeare’s Hamlet at The Public Theatre in New York City.
His musical collaborations include many styles: improvised and jazz music – Harmen Fraanje,
Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, Uri Caine, Deborah Brown – classical and baroque
music – Yo Yo Ma, Giovanni Sollima, Erik Bosgraaf, Dutch Wind Ensemble, Forma Antiqua – and
traditional music – Trilok Gurtu, Tenore e Concordu de Orosei, Groove Lélé, Nana Vasconcelos,
A Filetta, Mola Sylla, Ceylan Ertem.
Reijseger’s live performances challenge expectation and provoke communication. Reijseger
likes to incorporate the acoustics and reflections of the performance space.
Solo performance : Reijseger performs his own compositions and improvisations
Duo performance : Ernst Reijseger plays duo with Harmen Fraanje (piano), Mario Forte (violin), Erik Bosgraaf
(recorder), Giovanni Sollima (cello), Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves (percussion), Mola Sylla (voice),
Hanna Mattes (poetry).
Trio performance : trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla, trio Graewe Reijseger Hemingway
The Face of God : Ernst Reijseger & Sardinian Voices Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei
CineConcerto Requiem for a Dying Planet | Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Live music with large ensemble, choir and cinematographic projections of films by Werner
Influences and techniques
As a nine-year old boy, jazz music had its first real impact on him. He was fifteen when he
played his first gig in Amsterdam and sixteen when he started touring as member of a band.
Anner Bijlsma, his cello teacher at the conservatory, advised him to pursue his personal
interest. In the following years Reijseger played and toured extensively with theatre and
dance companies and musicians from the international improvised music, Caribbean, African
and jazz scene, all part of Amsterdam in the ’70 and ’80.
Reijseger: “I’m a non-repertoire cellist, following a non-traditional path. From when I was very
young, music from all over the world inspired me. I intuitively played in a way that I later found
out is called improvisation. Although I was always interested in the traditional cello technique
and aware of the cello repertoire, I became more and more self-taught in playing and
composing. My pizzicato techniques are inspired by plucking and fingerpicking of (bass) guitar
players. Drummers from all over inspired my rhythmical approach. Pianists, guitarists and
saxophonists influenced my phrasing. I’ve always worked with musicians deriving from different
Between his twenties and forties, Reijseger collaborated on 200 albums, with musicians such
as Louis Sclavis, Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves and Sean Bergin, Trio Clusone, Arcado String Trio, Trio
Graewe/Reijseger/Hemingway, Amsterdam String Trio, Misha Mengelberg’s Instant
Composers Pool, Gerry Hemingway Quintet, Franky Douglas Sunchild, Company Derek Bailey,
In the last two decades, Reijseger remains a frequently invited musician, for a.o. Davy Sicard,
Mats Eilertsen, Ceylan Ertem, Barana, Deborah Brown, Boi Akih, Maria Pia de Vito, Simon
Nabatov, Uri Caine, Moondog.
Reijseger performed and recorded as a soloist and/or composer with a number of large
ensembles, choirs and orchestras, such as WDR Big Band, Dutch Wind Ensemble, Ensemble
Modern, Autunno Ensemble, VU Chamber Choir, Dutch Chamber Choir, Children’s Orchestra at
Cello Biennale Amsterdam, the 100 Cellos, Forma Antiqva.
Reijseger’s first internationally distributed solo album was Colla Parte (1997).
This was the beginning of twenty albums for the label Winter&Winter.
Since 2021, Reijseger’s music and videos are released on his label Spring Music, available on
all digital platforms.
Film scores and Documentaries
Over the last fifteen years Reijseger scored ten films and documentaries for Werner Herzog,
such as The White Diamond, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Family Romance Ltd., Nomad, In the
Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin and Fireball.
He also scored the films Walking Out for Alex and Andrew Smith, C’est déjà l’été by Martijn
Maria Smits, Love by James Gallagher, Piano to Zanskar by Michal Sulima and Transumanza by
In the Netherlands, he scored the documentary Mongools Goud (Mongolian Gold) by Thomas
Doebele & Maarten Schmidt and collaborated to a series of documentaries about Dutch artists
called Hollandse Meesters (Dutch Masters).
Video installation ‘Hearsay of the Soul’ by Werner Herzog features Reijseger’s music together
with the art of early 17th century painter and print maker Hercules Pieterszoon Seghers. It is
part of the collection at the Getty Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Wallraf-Richartz-
Spring and summer 2017 Reijseger scored and performed live to 73 performances of
Shakespeare’s Hamlet at The Public Theatre in New York City, with a.o. Oscar Isaac, Keegan
Michael Key and Gayle Rankin, directed by Sam Gold.
Music Films about Ernst Reijseger
Irish music filmmaker Myles O’Reilly (www.arbutusyarns.net) frequently follows Ernst
Reijseger’s encounters and tours: Encounter at Teatro Valle, Encounter at the Cello Biënnale,
Returning Home – Live from Connolly’s of Leap, Dromberg Stone Circle, Encounters on Tour –
Reijseger, Fraanje, Sylla.
Documentaries made about/with Ernst Reijseger are Do You Still by
Jaques Goldstein and
Rondgang door de VPRO (Tour through the VPRO building) by Cherry Duyns.
Photos and Commercials
Dutch photographer/graphic designer/commercial director Krijn van Noordwijk
(www.krijnvannoordwijk.com) creates artwork for Spring Music.
Their collaboration goes both ways. Reijseger underscored six commercials directed by Krijn
van Noordwijk (SP, Millner, Brand Bier, Wijn & Stael, Royal Canin, Aids Fonds).
Reijseger is regularly invited to teach at music academies Accademia Musicale Chigiana
(music&media), Amsterdam Conservatorium (all disciplines), Koninklijk Conservatorium The
Hague (thesis supervisor), Prins Claus Conservatorium (European Master of Music NAIP –
New Audiences and Innovative Practice), Kronberg Academy Festival.
Collaborations over time
Improvised and jazz music: Harmen Fraanje, Mario Forte, Mats Eilertsen, Trio Clusone, Han
Bennink, Michael Moore, Misha Mengelberg’s Instant Composers Pool, Arcado String Trio
(Mark Feldman, Ernst Reijseger, Mark Dresser), Amsterdam String Trio (Maurice Horsthuis,
Ernst Reijseger, Ernst Glerum), Sean Bergin, Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves, Steve Lacy, Uri Caine, Georg
Graewe, Gerry Hemingway, Louis Sclavis, Louis Moholo, Franco D’Andrea, Cristina Zavalloni,
Classical and baroque music: Yo Yo Ma, Giovanni Sollima, Erik Bosgraaf, Dutch Wind Ensemble,
Forma Antiqua, Larissa Groeneveld, Frank van de Laar, Dutch Chamber Choir, Capella Cracoviensis.
Traditional music: Franky Douglas, Mola Sylla, Rónán Ó’ Snodaigh, Trilok Gurtu, Tenore e
Cuncordu de Orosei, Groove Lélé, Nana Vasconcelos, A Filetta, Boi Akih, Adama Dramé,
Barana, Ceylan Ertem.
heater: Shakespeare’s Hamlet/Sam Gold, Het Toneel Speelt
Music Theater: Theatergroep Flint Amsterdam, Teo Joling
Dancers: Compagnia Virgilio Sieni, Thomas Noone Dance, Bollwerk
Actors/Directors: Oscar Isaac, Keegan Michael Key, Sam Gold, Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill
Pullman, Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Katie Duck, Hans Croiset
Poets/Writers: Ramsy Nasr, Joke van Leeuwen, Hanna Mattes
Painters/sculptors/photographers: Jerry Zeniuk, Gerti Bierenbroodspot, Robert Zandvliet,
Simon Kramer, Joost Guntenaar, Krijn van Noordwijk, Roberto Masotti
Installations: Hearsay of the Soul by Werner Herzog
Filmmakers and documentarians: Werner Herzog, Alex&Andrew Smith,
Maria Smits, Ramon en Salvador Gieling, Jaques Goldstein, Cherry Duyns, Thomas
Doebele&Maarten Schmidt, James Gallagher, Michal Sulima, Roberto Zazzara
Myles O’Reilly, Martijn
Video artists: Martijn Grootendorst
1985 Boy Edgar Prize
1995 Bird Award
2010 Edison Contemporary Classical Music for solo album Tell Me Everything
2010 Trophée des Arts Afro-Caribéen for album Zembrocal Musical with Groove LéLé 2010
Golden Calf for film score C’est déjà l’été by Martijn Maria Smits
2019 Werner Herzog Film Award
Ernst Reijseger plays a 5-string cello by Bolink & Steinhauer, granted by the Nationaal
Reijseger plays an electric 5-string cello by NS design.
Music journalist Jeff Tamarkin on Ernst Reijseger (April 2010, Carnegie Hall)
“Ernst Reijseger has studied the cello rulebook, absorbed it thoroughly, and thrown it out the
window. Never restricted by others’ concepts of genre or application, the Dutch master has
consistently recast the instrument as his own. Working within virtually any format he fancies,
Reijseger has always challenged himself to reach out toward the unanticipated, to move the
music around corners in order to reveal unforeseen vistas. His technique is superb, his
improvisational skills masterful, and his compositional virtuosity unquestionable, but Reijseger’s
music also projects warmth, depth, and splendor—even at its most extreme. Whether pushing
the limits of jazz, world music, or modern classical—working solo or with an ensemble—
Reijseger never settles for the obvious. With each piece he writes, and in each project he
undertakes, Reijseger sets out to explore the myriad tones, colors, and moods available to him,
envelops them, then steps around them to investigate possible alternatives. His music is not
always easy, but it’s always satisfying. About the only thing one can expect from Ernst Reijseger
is the unexpected.”
Filmmaker Werner Herzog on Ernst Reijseger
“He is a magnificent cellist, and he can do anything, anything on his cello. He could play the civil
war, the American Civil war on his cello.”
Returning Home (Live from Connolly’s Of Leap)
Dromberg Stone Circle
live in Novara Jazz
Werner Herzog and Ernst Reijseger at Getty Museum
Live in Teatro Valle, Roma
Cello solo sul Monte Limbara, Time in Jazz