HENK GUITTART {} conductor & coach



Henk Guittart (b.1953) studied viola with Jürgen Kussmaul and orchestral conducting with Louis Stotijn in The Hague (the Netherlands). In 1974, he founded the Schoenberg Ensemble, serving as its artistic director until 1988 and as its violist until 1991. He was also the violist of the Schoenberg Quartet for 33 years, from the quartet’s founding in 1976 until it was disbanded in 2009. With this quartet, he performed and recorded the principal quartet repertoire from the period between 1880 and 1940, as well as several works from outside this period consisting primarily of newer music.

The Schoenberg Quartet gave nearly 100 concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Recital Hall (setting a record), and performed in many countries around the world.  The quartet released 38 CDs, including the complete works of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Zemlinsky, Schulhoff, Janáček and Louis Andriessen. The Schoenberg Quartet also recorded the complete works for string ensemble by Schoenberg (five string quartets, the String Trio, Verklärte Nacht plus the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte) for television. These eight productions were broadcasted in many European countries.

Between 1983 and 1991, the Schoenberg Quartet travelled to Boston once or twice a year for in-depth coaching of its entire repertoire by the illustrious quartet coach Eugene Lehner, former violist of the renowned Kolisch Quartet. The Kolisch Quartet worked with Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Ravel and Bartók in the 1920s and ‘30s.

During the 35 years in which he served as the violist of both the Schoenberg Quartet and the Schoenberg Ensemble, Henk Guittart commissioned many composers to write for these ensembles. Also, he collaborated in many world premieres (including several works by Schoenberg and Zemlinsky discovered by him), and with composers such as Louis Andriessen, Luigi Dallapiccola, Berthold Goldschmidt, Sofia Gubaidulina, Maurizio Kagel, Otto Ketting, Igor Markevitch, Luigi Nono, Robin de Raaff, Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov and Isang Yun. Louis Andriessen’s …miserere…, Robin de Raaff’s Carmina Chromatico and Otto Ketting’s Printemps are dedicated to Henk Guittart.

Henk Guittart also coached several famous actors for their performances of Schoenberg’s works for speaking voice (Sprechgesang). They include Barbara Sukowa (Pierrot lunaire), Michael Grandage (Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte) and Daniel Olbrychski (Survivor from Warsaw).

From 1991 to 2001, he was a member of a chamber music trio with oboist Han de Vries and pianist Ivo Janssen. They recorded several original works for this unique combination by Klughardt, Hindemith, Loeffler and Kahn, all of which were released on CD.

Henk Guittart has recorded numerous works* and performed extensively, both in the Netherlands and abroad, in the capacity of chamber musician as well as solo violist, with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble (*first performances of De Staat and Mausoleum by Louis Andriessen, works by Wim Laman and Konrad Boehmer), Schoenberg Ensemble (*Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, Serenade Op. 24, Suite Op. 29 and Chamber Symphony Op. 9, several arrangements from the Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen, the complete song cycles for ensemble by Webern, several works by Reich and Louis Andriessen) Deutsche Bachsolisten (*Bach, Haydn, Rosetti), Consortium Classicum (*Haydn), and the Stuttgart Piano Trio. All in all, he appeared on more than 60 recordings as a violist.

In 1987, Henk Guittart was the first of seven recipients of the “3-M Music Laureate”, at that time the most prestigious acknowledgement for musicians in the Netherlands. He was awarded a Lifelong Membership of the Friends of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute in Los Angeles, an honour that he shares with Pierre Boulez, Felix Galimir and Eugene Lehner.

Henk Guittart arranged Schoenberg’s Wind Quintet Op. 26 for string quintet and his Six Little Piano Pieces Op. 19 for string quartet. His arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht Op. 4 for piano trio was published in 2023.

The orchestral compositions of which he created arrangements for large chamber ensemble include Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth, Arnold Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto Op. 36, Ferruccio Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque, Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs, Anton Webern’s Passacaglia Op. 1, Max Reger’s Violin Concerto Op. 101 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Triple Concerto Op. 56 and his two Romances for violin Op. 40 & 50.

Most of these arrangements were released on compact disc by Etcetera, with Guittart conducting his Gruppo Montebello. The performance materials were mainly published by Donemus in the Netherlands, with the exception of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto, which was published by G. Schirmer in the U.S.A.

Donemus also published Guittart’s version for viola and piano of the Four Pieces for clarinet and piano Op. 5 by Alban Berg, which he recorded for Chandos with pianist Sepp Grotenhuis.

Henk Guittart served as artistic advisor for Henle Urtext Editions, Munich, for the publications of Zemlinsky’s Second String Quartet Op. 14, Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet Op. 10 and Verklärte Nacht Op. 4.

Guittart worked as a chamber music coach and conductor at various Dutch Conservatoires from 1978 until 2019. He served as a guest conductor and guest professor at music academies and universities in Budapest, Princeton, Los Angeles (USC), Dresden, The Hague, Amsterdam, Cologne, Moscow (Tchaikovsky Conservatory), Manchester, Vienna, London (Guildhall) and Stanford.

From 2010 – 2013, Henk Guittart fulfilled the position of Artistic Director of Music Programmes, Fall & Winter, at The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), after having served as artistic advisor and special guest faculty during its fall, winter, and summer programmes since 2006. He has coached countless young artists and ensembles at the Banff Centre.

From 2013 – 2023, Henk Guittart served as International Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (UK). In those ten years, he conducted an extensive repertoire, including major works by composers such as Mozart, Schubert, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bruckner, Reger, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Rota, Louis Andriessen and Jonathan Dove, as well as several performances of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht with a string orchestra of 75 to 100 players.

Henk Guittart was Artistic Director of the Orlando Festival, the oldest and largest international chamber music festival in the Netherlands, from September 2014 until the festival’s very last edition in 2022. In addition to this, Guittart has taught master classes at the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna since 2019. In the same year, he was also appointed artistic director of Residart, a combination of master classes and a festival in Ancona, Italy, where he coaches selected international ensembles.

As a conductor, Guittart’s repertoire is indeed extensive, ranging from the Viennese classics and many works from the Second Viennese School to brand-new music, including music theatre and opera. He conducted several professional orchestras as well as larger ensembles from The Hague Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In 2011, he founded Gruppo Montebello, an international ensemble with which he performed and recorded the complete arrangements from the Viennese Society for Private Musical Performances, in his own revised or newly arranged versions, including several later arrangements of orchestral music, as well as several original ensemble works by Schoenberg and Webern.

Henk Guittart has recorded fourteen CDs, on which he conducted music by Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, Busoni, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Debussy, Reger, Weill, Rudolf Escher, Louis Andriessen, Jonathan Berger, Jonathan Dove, Brian Current, Zosha di Castri, Taylor Brook, Justin Christensen and Robin de Raaff. 

version: December 2023


Biography (PFD)



written by Henk Guittart

Click to download

Arnold Schoenberg’s concept of presenting new music to an audience

‘Original’ versus ‘Reduction’, and what to do with the arrangement?

listening room

Arnold Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht

live performance
RNCM String Orchestra
Henk Guittart, conductor

Jonathan Dove Siren Song

Brad Cooper, tenor
Amaryllis Dieltiens, soprano
Siren Ensemble
Henk Guittart, conductor

Live recording, 2007
Grachtenfestival, Amsterdam

excerpts from Scene 4 

Davey:’Dear Diana. Dear Diana’

Davey: ‘I dream of a house and a garden’

in the press

Guittart led Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony Nr. 2 in a beautiful organic performance, full of exciting hesitations and much virtuosity.

Telegraaf, 2001

The interpretation of the excellent conductor Henk Guittart was very beautiful. His gestures are exact and lucid.

Friesch Dagblad, 2001