About the archive
Welcome to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s digital Concert Archive. This archive contains all available programme data pertaining to concerts given by the Concertgebouw Orchestra from its inception right up to the current concert season. The data available are explained in greater detail below.
In former times, programmes and other concert data were subject to change, just as they are today. Furthermore, during certain periods these changes were recorded with varying degrees of accuracy. That’s why the information in this archive is sometimes incomplete and why it’s not always easy to determine with 100 per cent certainty exactly who played what, when and where. Thus, the archive constitutes a data set which continues to be the subject of further research. Users are welcome to submit any additions or corrections.
This archive contains only data pertaining to programmes performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra (whose name changed to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1988). These programmes primarily involve concerts organised by the orchestra itself (which was managed by N.V. Het Concertgebouw until 1951) at the Concertgebouw, related programmes performed in other cities in or outside the Netherlands, and special performances, choral accompaniments, and theatre and opera performances given at the invitation of third parties. Also included are those performances given not under the orchestra’s own name, but ‘in collaboration with the orchestra of the Concertgebouw’ or with ‘members of the Concertgebouw Orchestra’. Performances given by guest ensembles as part of the orchestra’s subscription series are not included. Chamber music performances (given by individual members of the orchestra) are, generally speaking, not included in the overviews either.
The name of the conductor is provided for each programme; for programmes on which multiple conductors performed (or on which some works were performed without a conductor), the names are given for each work. Only the names of soloists who played a leading role in a given work are provided. Individual members of the orchestra who performed solo passages and smaller operatic roles have, in general, not been included. For many years, it was customary to use initials when denoting soloists’ names; as a result, determining the correct first name can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible, today. To facilitate the retrieval of all relevant performance data, the decision was taken to consistently use the same name for a performer, even when that performer appeared under various names as a result of marriage or the adoption of a stage name. Likewise, singers are listed consistently with the same voice type (where possible, this has been determined in accordance with the relevant role).
The editors have made every effort to determine the accuracy of the programmes as these were actually performed. Where possible, any doubts about accuracy or a possible alternative have been indicated by means of a note. In most cases, these involve concerts given, when the weather permitted, in the garden of the Concertgebouw during the orchestra’s early years, which often necessitated one or more changes to the programme.
Wherever possible, works are indicated by their current titles in accordance with uniform criteria. To ensure the best possible user experience, the decision was taken to avoid musicological 'hair-splitting' and thus to include only those additional data which help to identify a given work.
The archive was originally conceived for Dutch-speaking users. In the English-language version, only the search terms have been translated, not the names or titles in the tables. To ensure accessibility to those users who do not speak Dutch, it was decided that special titles should, wherever possible, be kept in the original language as long as they are recognisable to Dutch speakers (Russian titles, for instance, have been translated, but generally not those in German, French or English). As not all original titles can be determined with 100 per cent certainty, this practice has not been adopted with complete consistency, and some well-established Dutch names and nicknames have been retained.
Certain works that were written for, or commissioned by, the orchestra are indicated as such. Where such information is known, world premieres are also indicated as such. Dutch premieres are not listed, as relevant data from earlier years have proved highly unreliable.
NB: A given performance of a work may involve only specific movements of that work. This is evident only from the complete concert overview.
Movements of, or excerpts from, some works are also performed as independent compositions (particularly opera overtures and arias, but also works such as Ibéria from Debussy’s Images pour orchestre, for example). Identifying all performances of these movements or excerpts thus requires two separate searches. The Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, however, appears only as a movement of the work, although it is often performed separately.
Mendelssohn’s Overture 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' has its own opus number, but is also performed as part of the complete incidental music.
Schubert’s Overture 'Die Zauberharfe' is often performed along with the incidental music to Rosamunde and is thus included as an excerpt from the latter. As a result, it is not always clear what was performed when the Overture to 'Rosamunde' is listed.
Suites from ballets and incidental music are often performed in many different versions. Where a composer compiled clearly distinct suites, a particular version has been entered along with a number or year as a separate work (even though it is not always clear exactly which version was performed). In some cases, conductors compiled suites based on the original ballet score (i.e. not on excerpts from the independently published suites).
Where the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
have been performed as an independent whole, they are listed as excerpts from the opera, as it
was not Wagner’s intention that these excerpts should form a unit in themselves. Additionally,
the prelude is sometimes performed as an independent work.
In general, where there are small differences between versions, no distinction has been made.
Only the most widely used catalogue numbers have been included, these being BWV (for J.S. Bach), Wq (C.P.E. Bach), WAB (Bruckner) HWV (Handel), Hob. (Haydn), KV (Mozart), D (Schubert) and RV (Vivaldi). Opus numbers and keys are included only where they customarily facilitate the identification of a particular work.
Up to 1930, you will regularly see the remark ‘chamber music performed not indicated’. Indeed, up to that time, guest soloists or members of the orchestra would customarily play short sets of chamber music. In subsequent years, chamber music was performed only occasionally, usually as part of a balanced programme. In rare cases, where, for instance, the conductor–composer performed his own work, this chamber music has been included, even for earlier years.
Encores given by soloists or by the orchestra as a whole are usually not indicated, as, in the case of most concerts, it is impossible to ascertain whether encores were given.
The Concertgebouw’s opening concert on 11 April 1888 was given by an orchestra of freelance musicians under the direction of Henri Viotta. In subsequent months, the Concertgebouw established its own orchestra, which had already accompanied a number of performances at the Stadsschouwburg prior to the first subscription concert, conducted by the orchestra’s first chief conductor Willem Kes, on 3 November 1888. Initially, 'matinées musicales' were given on Sundays (1888–89 through 1899–1900) alongside the subscription concerts on Thursdays. A limited number of 'soirées musicales', later known as ‘popular concerts’, would also be given during the summer months. Special concerts would be designated ‘philharmonic concerts’, ‘extraordinary subscription concerts’ or ‘extraordinary morning concerts’ (these were considered ‘extraordinary’ because a special soloist would be enlisted to fill a large part of the programme, for example). In addition, there were the performances in which the orchestra would accompany the 'Toonkunst' oratorio societies of Alkmaar, Amsterdam, The Hague, Haarlem and Leiden. With the exception of those in Amsterdam, these concerts came to an end around 1900. Opera and theatre performances were given under the auspices of the Fransche Opera (French Opera), the Wagnervereeniging (Wagner Society) and the Nederlandsch Toneel (Dutch Theatre). In its early years, the orchestra gave two opera performances with the Brussels La Monnaie company at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. It also gave series of concerts in other cities as early as the spring of 1889. The orchestra stayed afloat by also giving many performances at the invitation of third parties. The performances given as part of the 1895 World’s Fair in Amsterdam were a special case, and the orchestra’s exact contribution and the programmes it performed in that connection are, for the most part, unknown.
From the 1900–01 through the 1911–12 season, the orchestra gave regular summer concerts from April to September (‘subscription concerts’ on Thursdays or ‘popular concerts’ on Sunday afternoons). Starting in the 1912–13 season, it gave concerts outside the subscription series called ‘people’s concerts’ and ‘popular concerts’ (volksconcerten and populaire concerten in Dutch) (in addition to the ‘people’s concerts’ given under the auspices of the Toonkunst society from 1904–05 through 1919–20). The practice of the orchestra collaborating on performances with numerous oratorio societies was maintained until the Second World War. The orchestra also continued to give extraordinary or gala concerts on numerous occasions, accompany opera and theatre productions (those involving chamber music have not been included), give concerts outside Amsterdam and, increasingly, undertake international tours.
After the Second World War, particularly after the orchestra’s organisational split with the Concertgebouw (the concert hall) in 1951, the situation changed dramatically once again. The ‘people’s concerts’ were replaced by concerts given under the auspices of the Nederlands Theater Centrum (Dutch Theatre Centre), which would later become the Amsterdams Uit Bureau (AUB). The orchestra also made occasional appearances on the ever-growing number of series organised by the Concertgebouw. The format of the orchestra’s own subscriptions series often varied as well. In addition to the subscription concerts, special traditions were established, such as the annual Passion performances on Palm Sunday and, later, the Christmas Matinees (given on Christmas Day, unlike the earlier Christmas concerts, which were typically performed on Boxing Day). From 1922 through 1961, there was an annual Beethoven festival.
The concert designations (titles of series etc.) are given in the archive as they appear in the programme booklets. These are not searchable.
The times at which concerts started and the average programme lengths have changed over time. Thursday evening subscription concerts at the Concertgebouw initially started at 8.00 p.m. Starting in the 1924–25 season, however, this changed to the now customary time of 8.15 p.m. Early in the orchestra’s history, programmes were often very long, featuring a large-scale symphony and/or solo concerto before the interval and a more varied ‘salon’ programme afterwards, with sometimes even songs and chamber music on both halves as well. Over time, however, these gave way to the standard formula of overture/concerto/interval/symphony, each half lasting roughly forty-five minutes. Recent years have seen renewed experimentation with innovative concert formats. Where exact concert times are missing, the starting time customary for a certain series and location during the relevant period has generally been provided. Intervals which are not indicated, yet which the relevant programming suggests must have occurred at a logical point in the programme, have been added.
Neither starting nor ending dates of the concert season were always consistent. For practical reasons, the decision was taken to have each season begin on 1 August and end on 31 July, even though this may not reflect actual practice in all periods.
The country, city and concert hall are given for each performance. The names of performance venues have changed fairly often over time, including the exact way in which the name of the orchestra’s own home base is spelled. Historical accuracy has occasionally had to be sacrificed for the sake of clarity. For each concert, the location is listed separately – whether it be at the Concertgebouw (as part of the orchestra’s own subscription series or otherwise), elsewhere in Amsterdam or the Netherlands, or outside the Netherlands.
There are many conflicting artistic, political, marketing and technical arguments for designating (or not designating, as the case may be) certain performances given by the orchestra as a ‘concert’. In general, lunchtime concerts, open rehearsals and dress rehearsals have not been included in the database. The same applies to studio recordings where no audience was present (these include record and CD recordings, and recordings made for radio and/or television broadcast).
|Concert data entry and research:||Mark van Dongen
Marlies van den Hoek
Sophie van der Speck
|Database design:||Joris Nassenstein|
|Web application production and design:||Digitect B.V., Frans van Basten|
|Project management:||Mark van Dongen|
The archive of programme booklets and data belonging to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Het Concertgebouw N.V. and the collection maintained in respect of both institutions by Stadsarchief Amsterdam (the Amsterdam City Archives) served as the foundation for this digital concert archive. In addition, Mr Nico Steffen’s personal archive proved invaluable for concert data collection. Having consulted numerous sources, he has compiled an historical overview of all performances given by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, including a reconstruction of the concert programmes for which no programme booklet has survived, and programmes which were altered after their booklets were published.
The inclusion in the database of the complete details for concerts given during the period prior to the split between the Concertgebouw and the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1951–52 would have been impossible had it not been for the many years of research conducted by Mr Steffen. For the years following the split, a reliable source was available – the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s own logs, carefully maintained by hand until the introduction of the computer scheduling program OPAS.
As precursors to the digital archive, the files of Mr Steffen and the Concertgebouw Orchestra's own logs documented the periods during which Riccardo Chailly and Eduard van Beinum served as chief conductors. These data were released on CD-ROM in 2004 (when Riccardo Chailly departed), respecitively published together with Truus de Leur’s biography Eduard van Beinum 1900–1959, Musicus tussen musici. The orchestra’s current artistic team are the grateful beneficiaries of the initiative undertaken by their predecessors, particularly Truus de Leur and Hans Ferwerda.
Staff working at numerous archives and private collections have endeavoured to track down the very last details pertaining to the concerts and have, where possible, submitted copies of programme booklets and reviews. The compilers of the database would like to express their gratitude to city, municipal, regional, and national archives and private collections in Alkmaar, Amsterdam, Arnhem, Assen, Apeldoorn, Breda, Bussum, Delft, Den Helder, Deventer, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Gouda, Groningen, The Hague, Haarlem, Heerlen, Hengelo, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Leiden, Maastricht, Naarden, Nijmegen, Roermond, Roosendaal, Rotterdam, Santpoort, Tilburg, Utrecht, Venlo and Zaandam.