Photo by Krijn van Noordwijk

Ernst Reijseger (cellist, composer)

Born in Naarden (NL) in 1954, Reijseger started playing cello at the age of seven. At the Conservatory of Amsterdam his teacher Anner Bijlsma encouraged him to follow his own path in order to develop his musical vocabulary.
This resulted in a life time of out-of-the-box and genre-bending collaborations and that enabled Reijseger to grow into a unique musical force.

Recently Reijseger composed for baroque orchestra Forma Antiqua (Volcano Symphony), the Dutch Wind Ensemble and Ensemble Modern.
Scoring films for directors Werner Herzog (o.a. The White Diamond, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) and Alex and Andrew Smith (Walking Out) created a new platform for Reijseger’s music.

Together with the audio loving label Winter&Winter,

Ernst Reijseger released over two dozen albums, including film soundtracks.
All About Jazz on “Requiem for a Dying Planet”: It’s hypnotic in its beauty and stunning in its scope. It stimulates consideration and transcends the art of music into another realm.”

Throughout the years Reijseger gave outstanding solo performances.
His solo albums Colla Parte (1997), Tell Me Everything (2008) and Crystal Palace (2014) were highly acclaimed by the international press.
All Music Guide:”…His playing makes use of various capabilities of the cello. Reijseger never does the same thing twice, and in fact the pieces resemble each other very little, which is quite an accomplishment for a disc of solo cello music.”

Reijseger’s live performances challenge expectations and are build on daring and essential communication. Trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla moves audiences to tears, showing that music bypasses labels and only requires a sincere connection of spirit.

Reijseger collaborated with musicians from improvised and jazz music (Uri Caine, Han Bennink, Misha Mengelbergs Instant Composers Pool, Louis Sclavis, Harmen Fraanje), classical and baroque music (Yo Yo Ma, Giovanni Sollima, Erik Bosgraaf) and traditional music (Trilok Gurtu, Tenore e Concordu de Orosei, Groove Lélé, Nana Vasconcelos, Mola Sylla).

His ability to interact with various art forms make him a sought after creative partner of poets (Ramsey Nasr), dancers (Bollwerk), actors (Oscar Isaac, Teo Joling), painters (Jerry Zeniuk, Simon Kramer, Robert Zandvliet), sculptors (Gertie Bierenbroodspot), photographers (Joost Guntenaar, Krijn van Noordwijk) and film makers (Werner Herzog, Alex and Andrew Smith).

Reijseger’s music is part of two art installations: Stephan Winter’s ‘Von der Stille’ (Rathausgalerie Kunsthalle in Munich) and Werner Herzog’s ‘Hearsay of the Soul’ (J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City).

So far five documentaries were made about and around Ernst Reijseger, by Cherry Duyns, Jacques Goldstein, Thomas Doebele & Maarten Schmidt, Werner Herzog and Miles O’Reilly.


1985 Boy Edgar Prize
1995 Bird Award
2010 Edison Award 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

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.”

Werner Herzog

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.” (Jeff Tamarkin is a music journalist)


Reijseger plays on a 5-string cello build by Jaap Bolink & Annelies Steinhauer. This cello was made available to him by the Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds. He also plays an electric 5-string cello of NS design by Ned Steinberger. Reijseger uses Thomastik Infeld strings and a Realist pickup.

cd’s released by Winter & Winter