During his 40 year career as a percussionist, Henk de Vlieger was invited as a guest player in the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and some major Dutch orchestras such as the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He worked with eminent conductors such as Ernest Bour, Jean Fournet, Riccardo Muti, Kirill Kondrashin, Kurt Sanderling, Mariss Jansons, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit, Valeri Gergiev, Kent Nagano, Peter Eötvös, Mark Elder, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Markus Stenz and of course the Dutch masters: Willem van Otterloo, Bernard Haitink, Hans Vonk, Edo de Waart and Jaap van Zweden. As a percussion soloist he participated among other things in Concerto pour batterie et petit orchestre by Darius Milhaud, La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ and Saint François d'Assise by Olivier Messiaen, Manhattan Concerto by Siegfried Matthus and From me flows what you call Time by Toru Takemitsu.

Henk de Vlieger is author of the Handbook for the orchestral percussion section. This book, published in 2003, describes the percussion sections in some 2000 orchestral compositions.

In 1976 he was appointed percussionist and timpanist of the four orchestras of the Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation (NOS). In 1984 he became a permanent member of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Initially as percussionist and second timpanist, but in 1986 he advanced to the position of principal percussionist. At his own request he withdrew from this leadership in 2002 and became a co-principal percussionist.

From 1998 until 2005 he was chief editor of ‘Informeel’, the personnel magazine of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. In 2011 he was also appointed artistic advisor of the orchestra. Due to disastrous art budget cuts by the Dutch government, resulting in a comprehensive reorganization of the radio orchestras, he unfortunately lost his job in August 2013.

Henk de Vlieger (Schiedam, 1953) started his musical education at an early age, playing the harmonium of his grandfather. After secondary school he succesively studied percussion with Willem Heesen, and composition with Theo Loevendie and Klaas de Vries at the Rotterdam Conservatory.

Ever since his childhood, Henk de Vlieger has been drawn to the challenge of writing music. Besides working as a performer, he produced dozens of arrangements of various kinds. For his fellow students he made some adaptions for percussion ensemble, of which his remarkable instrumentation of Mussorgski’s Pictures at an exhibition still survives. He wrote instrumentations for theatre and film productions as well as orchestrations for several occasions. During the nineties he obtained international acknowledgement with his symphonic compilations of operas by Richard Wagner, commisioned by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, on request of chief-conductor Edo de Waart. These arrangements are now performed by major orchestras and great conductors all over the world. More recently, he applied himself to orchestrations of (organ) works by Schumann, Brahms and Franck, remaining faithful to the instrumental principles of the composers. On the other hand, he also made adaptions of symphonic works for small ensembles. His main arrangements are published by Schott Music.

His own compositions, like the early works Mobile..., Toccata and Fresco, are qualified by strict constructions based on a minimum of material (which can be considered a Dutch characteristic). With his flute solo Evocazione however, he explored a more instinctive melodic style.


(Last update: March 17, 2018)

Recently published by SCHOTT Music:

Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d’Été

Transcription for mezzo-soprano and

wind quintet by Henk de Vlieger


Recently released:

Cd ‘The Busy Drone’,

16 new compositions for barrel organ, including:

Henk de Vlieger - Fresco


Review by Thea Derks

Looking forward to 3 great projects!

  1. 1.World premiere of Antonin Dvorak - Sextet after Symphony nr. 7 in d minor, transcription for clarinet, horn, piano, violin, viola and cello (like Sextet in C by Ernö Dohnanyi), performed by musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Club Classique Amsterdam. Novara (It.), Apr. 28, 2018

  1. 2.Concert op de Amstel, by Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and soloists, starting with Henk de Vlieger - Amstel Prelude 2018 (directly broadcasted by NOS television on NPO 1)

  1. 3.World première of Richard Wagner - ‘Tannhäuser light’ , transcription of the opera for 5 singers and 11 instruments, by vocal soloists and musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. IJ-Salon, Amsterdam, Muziekgebouw aan het IJ, May 26, 2018