Jaap Schröder

Jaap Schröder


• 1925 2020


Jaap Schröder was among the most versatile of the musicians who emerged from the historical performance movement. He recorded music ranging from Baroque to Romantic both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, conducted and led a variety of top period-instrument ensembles, and enjoyed a long career as a teacher in both Europe and the U.S.

Born in 1925 in Amsterdam, Schröder combined violin studies in Amsterdam and Paris with musicology courses at the Sorbonne. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was a member of the Netherlands String Quartet and concertmaster of the Hilversum Radio Chamber Orchestra, and in 1960, he founded his own chamber group, Concerto Amsterdam.

In the 1970s, as the movement toward historically accurate performances entered its second wave, Schröder became one of the first musicians to look toward extending its principles forward to the Classical and Romantic eras. He founded the Quartetto Esterházy in 1973 to that end, and once again, he immersed himself in orchestral as well as chamber literature. From 1980 to 1984, he was the concertmaster of London's Academy of Ancient Music, and he would co-direct that group's recording of Mozart's complete symphonies, the first made on period instruments. He conducted various European Baroque orchestras, as well as the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra in Washington.

Schröder was also active as a chamber musician and as a soloist in the U.S., as well as teaching for many years at the Yale University School of Music and holding guest appointments at several top conservatories. He founded the Smithsonian String Quartet in Washington in 1982, and his recordings have included Baroque standards like the Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and unfamiliar Baroque virtuoso solo literature by the likes of Biber, Veracini, and Uccellini. With chamber groups, he performed music by Mendelssohn, Gade, and both Robert and Clara Schumann, and his repertoire extended forward to Hindemith's violin concerto from Kammermusik No. 4. A walking compendium of expertise and performing lore, Schröder was a true jack-of-all-trades in the historical-performance investigative enterprise. Schröder died in Amsterdam on January 1, 2020.