Simon Murphy Conductor Viola Player Portrait

Simon Murphy – Founding Director and Conductor of The New Dutch Academy  

Educated by the leading lights of the Dutch early music movement, the young Australian/Dutch conductor and viola player Simon Murphy (Sydney, 1973) gained his initial experience performing in the leading Dutch and European period instrument ensembles such as the Orchestra of the 18th Century, and was also the Viola player of The Amsterdam String Quartet, before going on to establish The New Dutch Academy (NDA). Under Murphy's leadership, the NDA has toured around the world performing at major venues and festivals, and has attracted awards and much praise from both the media and musical establishment for its fresh and vibrant approach to early music repertoire, performance and presentation.  

Murphy is known for his energetic and infectiously enthusiastic approach to music making, as well as for his multidisciplinary projects and programmes, giving new insights into the music, arts and culture of the 18th century. As a researcher, programmer and  conductor, he has done much in reviving and promoting previously ignored symphonic music, especially from the mid 18th century musical centres of Mannheim and the Netherlands, championing this repertoire through creating and conducting special programmes in performances and broadcasts in the Netherlands and, internationally, at the major European festivals. Murphy has also been recently successful in completing the reconstruction of Bach’s own cello – known as the Violoncello Piccolo or Viola Pomposa – an instrument upon which he also regularly performs as a soloist.  

Murphy obtained his undergraduate degree in Fine Arts, Musicology and Performance at the University of Sydney, before moving to the Netherlands where he studied and worked with the likes of Alda Stuurop, Gustav Leonhardt and Frans Brüggen.

As a conductor and chamber soloist, Murphy has performed across Europe, America, Asia and Australia. His work is documented on more than 50 CDs. He regularly co-operates with European radio and television for live concert broadcasts and documentaries, working with, amongst others, AVRO, NPS, RNW, Hessischer Rundfunk, MDR, Radio Deutschland and RAI as well as with the EBU for world-wide live simulcasts. Murphy has directed concert performances at the major concert halls at home in the Netherlands (including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, De Doelen Rotterdam and Vredenburg Utrecht), and, internationally, at the major European music festivals, including at the Festivals of Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Brussels, Gent, Brühl, Halle, Weimar, Potsdam and Rome.  

Recent conducting concert highlights have included performances of Handel’s Water Music at the Händel Festspiele in the composer’s birth city of Halle, concerts of symphonies by Haydn and his Dutch contemporaries at the UNESCO world heritage site Schloss Brühl, performances of Corelli Concerti Grossi in the Bernini hall in the presidential Palazzo Quirinale in Rome, performances of Mozart Symphonies as part of  the Holland Festival of Early Music, and concerts of symphonies of Beethoven and Wranitzky with live broadcasts from De Doelen Rotterdam on European Radio.  

Simon Murphy rehearses the NDA Orchestra

In his home city of The Hague, highlights have included directing world premiere performances and recordings of recently rediscovered symphonies from the 18th century court of orange, including the symphonies of Zappa. In the coming season, Murphy’s conducting duties in The Hague include performances and broadcasts of overtures and symphonic music by Mozart, Dittersdorf, Cimarosa and the Bach sons.  

Murphy is also active as a chamber musician. He has appeared at the major festivals in programmes of works by the 18th century Dutch and European masters. Recent solo recitals have included the Thuringer Bachwochen (2009) where Murphy performed in the original workplace of JS Bach, the Weimar Schloss, and at the prestigeous Lepizig Bachfest (2010) where Murphy performed a recital programme centering around JS Bach's VI Suite on the successfull reconstruction of Bach's own Cello, the Violoncello Piccolo, in Schloss Koethen - the very place where Bach wrote the now legendary Cello Suites in th early 18th century.   

Murphy regularly works together with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs representing the Netherlands and Dutch Cultural Heritage internationally. In this role of cultural ambassador, he has conducted the opening concerts for Dutch Music Month in Sydney (2006) and Dutch Music Week in Brussels (2004), and for other major representational events such as the official opening concert for the State Visit of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix to Italy, broadcast live on international radio and TV. He performed at the recent celebrations of Hudson 400 in New York in a special programme of Dutch works designed by him, at the request of the Dutch government. He has been regularly interviewed on radio about his research and performance work, and particularly on the 18th century Dutch music scene and its international character and connections.  

Simon Murphy Bach's Cello Schloss Koethen

Murphy has been awarded industry prizes for his performing and recording work, including the Edison for his and the NDA’s first recording of early Mannheim symphonies. Murphy is responsible for putting the important but forgotten 18th century German/Dutch composer and musical figure Joseph Schmitt (1734 – 1791) – known as “The Dutch Haydn” – back on the musical map through an intense research project followed by a series of world premiere recordings and broadcasts of the composer’s orchestral and chamber works.  Murphy’s latest CD is the first to document the symphonic music of the 18th century Court of Orange in The Hague and includes world premiere recordings of the recently rediscovered symphonic music of Francesco Zappa, solo cellist and composer at the court.  

Alongside his conducting work, Simon Murphy is a committed educator. He has been a guest baroque violin/viola teacher at many leading institutions and has presented masterclasses, workshops, scholarly lectures and lecture-recitals throughout Europe, Asia, Russia, Scandinavia, U.S.A. and Canada. Recent highlights have included concert-performances, lecture-recitals and workshops for the Royal Conservatorium of The Hague, the Glinka Conservatorium, Sydney Conservatorium and the G.F. Händel Conservatorium in Halle, for the University of New South Wales, Webster University and the University of New England, and at the Getty Centre in Los Angeles where he gave concert-performances and a lecture-recital about the music scene in 18th century Holland at the invitation of the U.C.L.A. and the Getty Research Institute.

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