Reijseger Ernst



Ernst Reijseger (ph.
                        Bruno Bollaert)Cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger (1954) plays the cello from the age of seven and began as a performing cellist and improviser in 1969. From that time on he developed   his own musical vocabulary. In 1974 his teacher Anner Bijlsma advised him to cease his music education at the Amsterdam Conservatory and pursue his own way. 

Many of Reijseger’s collaborations cannot be classified into genres. He writes for and improvises with musicians and ensembles of different musical disciplines and nationalities. He gives solo recitals, performing his own music.

Solo concerts

For solo concerts Reijseger uses a 4-string and a 5-string cello.

In 2010 he received an Edison ‘Hedendaags Klassiek’ (Contemporary Classical) for his second solo album ‘Tell Me Everything’ (Winter&Winter).


Reijseger coöperated with saxophonist Sean Bergin, pianist Burton Greene, drummer Martin van Duynhoven, guitarist Derek Bailey, percussionist Alan Purves and guitarist Franky Douglas, bass player Lesley Joseph, tabla player Trilok Gurtu and cellist Yo Yo Ma, pianist Franco d' Andrea, clarinetist Louis Sclavis, pianist Simon Nabatov, singer Mola Sylla and percussionist Serigne Gueye, bass player Mats Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, multi-instrumentalist Stian Carstensen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, reed player  Fredrik Ljungkvist, singer Maria Pia de Vito, pianist Uri Caine, pianists Harmen Fraanje and Wolfert Brederoode, accordion player Luciano Biondini, tuba player Michel Godard, cellist Giovanni Sollima.  

He was part of the Theo Loevendie Consort, Guus Janssen Septet, Arcado String Trio, Trio Clusone with Michael Moore and Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg’s Instant Composers Pool, Gerry Hemingway Quintet, Amsterdam String Trio, trio with pianist Georg Graewe and percussionist Gerry Hemingway, trio with trumpet player Eric Vloeimans and guitarist Anton Goudsmit, duo with pianist Harmen Fraanje and trio with Harmen Fraanje and singer Mola Sylla.

In 1985 Reijseger was awarded with the Boy Edgar prize (Dutch prize for jazz and improvised music).

In 1995 he received the Bird Award from the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Large ensembles

Reijseger collaborates with the Sardinian vocal group Tenore e Concordu de Orosei.  With them and Senegalese singer Mola Sylla he performs a concert version of the music for the films by Werner Herzog. The title of this performance and the cd is ‘Requiem for a Dying Planet’.

For the Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale 2010 Reijseger worked with 140 young cellists,  who  eventually assembled in one orchestra, the Mega Kinder Cello Orkest.

On the island ‘La Réunion’ Reijseger met the group Groove Lélé. This accidental encounter has led to a close friendship and a musical collaboration. They recorded the album ‘Zembrocal Musical’ (Winter&Winter).

The cd ‘Zembrocal Musical’ received the French prize ‘Trophée des Arts Afro Carabiéen’ for 'Best album 2010’. Groove Lélé & Reijseger were also nominated for 'Best Group 2010’.


Projects in which Ernst Reijseger participated are for example ‘Tango y Posttango’ by WDR Big Band Köln, with music of the pianist-composer-conductor Gerardo Gandini and bandoneon player Nestor Marconi and the projects of Barana & Co, existing of Dutch and Turkish musicians plus f.e. singer Ceylan Ertem and drummer-percussionist from Iran, Afra Mussawissade. 

Reijseger wrote music for and played solo with the Metropool Orkest in a project about the film music of Ennio Morricone, in partnership with composer/arranger Martin Fondse.

In Porto (Portugal, 2008) Reijseger worked closely together for three months with dancer Antonio Tavares and filmmaker Tiago Periera on the project ‘Aniki  in da House’. For the occasion of the 100th birthday of cineaste Manoel de Oliveira they made a dance-music-video-performance with children from similar areas in which the film ‘Aniki Bobo’ took place around 1942. Reijseger led a group of 90 young cellists.

Other disciplines

Reijseger performed with poets Ramsey Nasr and Ester Naomi Perquin, writer Joke van Leeuwen, inventor Theo Botschuiver, dancers Andrea Boll and Thomas Noon, painter/sculptor Gerti Bierenbroodspot and photographer Krijn van Noordwijk.

Reijseger played in radio plays and played music to the first Dutch broadcastings of Sesame Street.

With Theatergroep Flint (with Felix Strategier and Sean Bergin) Reijseger made the music theater performance 'Korreltjie Korreltjie Sand' (2007) based on the poetry of the South-African poet Ingrid Jonker. Also with Theatergroep Flint (with Felix Strategier and Wolfert Brederoode) he performed ‘Klaarlichte Nacht’ (2011), music theatre based on the poetry of the Flemish poet Herman de Coninck.

Recently Reijseger provided music for modern dance performance ‘Wa(h)r es gelogen’ by dance group Bollwerk (2011).

In 2008 a ‘Gouden Loeki’ (Dutch prize for the best commercial) was assigned to ‘Thuiszorg’, idealistic advertising for elderly care, for which the maker Krijn van Noordwijk used Reijseger’s music.

Written compositions

Reijseger’s written compositions are performed by cellist Larissa Groeneveld and pianist Frank van de Laar, with Reijseger as a free agent (cd ‘Do You Still’, Winter&Winter), by Quartetto Italiano de Viola da Gamba (cd ‘Full of Color’, Winter&Winter), the Ragazza string quartet and singer Christina Zavalloni.

Reijseger composed also for large ensembles: two pieces for solo cello and string orchestra (6 concerts with Autunno Ensemble), a concert for solo cello and symphony orchestra (Sweelinck Orchestra), two pieces for cello solo plus string- and wind ensemble (Ensemble Modern at the Kronberg Cello Festival 2009), a full length program ‘Huil, Klaag, Bid en Bemin’ (2011) performed eight times in the Dutch concert halls by the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble together with the Corsican choir A Filetta. 

He composed a cello concert in tree parts performed by Reijseger and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble at the Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale 2010, several pieces for eight singers, organ and 5-string cello (Nederlands Kamerkoor, Fraanje, Reijseger) and finally a set of pieces for an ensemble of cello quartet plus solo cello, accordion, piano, percussion, voice (with soloïsts Biondini, Fraanje, Purves, Bhattacharya, Sylla).

Film music

Ernst Reijseger creates music for film and documentary. Since 2004 he wrote music to four films and a 3D-documentary by cineaste Werner Herzog: 'The White Diamond', 'The Wild Blue Yonder', 'Rescue Dawn', ‘My Son My Son What Have Ye Done’ and ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, soundtracks of which were published by Winter&Winter.

Reijseger made music for the Ajax film ‘Daar Hoorden Zij Engelen Zingen’ and for two  films by Martijn Maria Smits: ‘Anvers’ en ‘C’est déjà l’Été’. Also filmmakers Kees Hin, Maaik Krijgsman and Pieter Verhoef used Reijseger’s music.

For the music in ‘C’est déjà l’Été’ Reijseger was awarded a Gouden Kalf (Dutch film prize) for ‘Best Film Music 2010’.

Children’s concerts

Reijseger plays for children on a regular basis, both in schools as in theaters.

Guest lectures

Reijseger gives guest lectures at cello festivals and conservatories worldwide.


Reijseger’s discography counts over 150 titles. Since 1996 his music is published for the most part by the label Winter&Winter,


Reijseger plays on a 4-string cello build by Jaap Bolink and a 5-string cello (la Baleine) build by Jaap Bolink & Annelies Steinhauer. The 5-string cello was made available to him by the Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds. Reijseger plays an electric 5-string cello of NS design by Ned Steinberger. He is sponsored by Thomastik Infeld for his strings.

Quote: 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 veteran freelance music journalist.

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The discography of Ernst Reijseger counts over 150 titels. A selection:

2011 – Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Official Soundtrack of the Werner Herzog 3D documentary ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’

Ernst Reijseger - cello, Harmen Fraanje - piano/ church organ/ wurlitzer organ, Sean Bergin - pennywhistle, Dutch Chamber Choir - voices

label: Winter&Winter


2010 - My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

Sounds from the Motion Picture

David Lynch presents A Werner Herzog film

Ernst Reijseger Ensemble

Ernst Reijseger [violoncello], Julie Läderach [violoncello], Djoeke Reijseger [violoncello, voice on track 6], Tom van Lent [violoncello], Bonno Lange [violoncello], Luciano Biondini [accordion], Harmen Fraanje [piano], Alan "Gunga" Purves [percussion], Mola Sylla [voice], Sandip Bhattacharya [voice, tabla]

label: Winter&Winter 


2010 -  Groove LéLé & Ernst Reijseger Zembrocal Musical

Groove Lélé: Willy Philéas [lead vocals, odou], Urbain Philéas [lead vocals, triangle, choir], Fabrice Lambert [kayamb, lead vocals, choir], Jules Benard [rouler, choir], David Doris [congas, choir], Luciano Alcimedon [sati, choir], Béatrice Philéas [choir]

Marie-Claude Lambert [lead vocals, choir], Judicaël Philéas [choir]

Ernst Reijseger [cello, NS 5-string cello]

Alan "Gunga" Purves [bones, jawbone, cup-coil, shakers]

Mola Sylla [voice]      

label: Winter&Winter 


2008 - Tell Me Everything
Ernst Reijseger – cello solo
label: Winter&Winter

2007 - Do You Still
Larissa Groeneveld - cello, Ernst Eeijseger - cello, Frank van de Laar - piano
label: Winter&Winter 

2006 - Requiem for a Dying Planet
Filmsession for Two Werner Herzog films: The White Diamond and The Wild Blue Yonder
label: Winter&Winter 
Mola Sylla – voice, the Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei – voice, Ernst Eeijseger - cello

2006 - Vittorio Ghielmi Full of Colour
Quartetto Italiano de Viola da Gamba ‘Il Sonar Parlante’ 
5 pieces by and with Ernst Reijseger
label: Winter&Winter

2005 -  Graewe&Reijseger&Hemingway Continuum
Trio Georg Gräwe - piano, Gerry Hemingway – dr/perc, Ernst Reijseger – cello. 
label: Winter&Winter 

2005 - Mats Eilertsen Flux
Mats Eilertsen - bass, Fredrik Ljungkvist - reeds, Thomas Strønen – dr/perc, Ernst Reijseger - cello

2004 - Mats Eilertsen Turanga
Mats Eilertsen - bass , Fredrik Ljungkvist - reeds, Thomas Strønen – dr/perc, Ernst Reijseger - cello

2004  - Audiofilm – Der Kastanienball
Wolfram Berger [story teller], Jean-Louis Costes [vocals, piano], Cristina Zavalloni [vocals], Sabrina Khalil [vocals], Jim Thirlwell [theremin, electronics], Sadiq Bey [voice], Theo Bleckmann [vocals], Noël Akchoté [musical director, guitar], Steve Beresford [hammond organ, electronics, pocket trumpet, voice], Lorenzo Ghielmi [church organ], Alan »Gunga« Purves [drums, percussion, tubes], Ernst Reijseger [cello, percussion, voice], Herb Robertson [trumpet], Fumio Yasuda [piano, melodica], Gamba quartet »Il Suonar Parlante« with Vittorio Ghielmi, Rodney Prada, Fahmi Alqhai, Cristiano Contadin 
label: Winter&Winter 

2003 - Ernst Reijseger JANNA
Mola Sylla - voice, Serigne Gueye - perc, Ernst Reijseger - cello
label: Winter&Winter

2003 - Stian Carstensen Backwards into the Backwoods
Stian Carstensen – accordion, banjo, electric/acoustic guitar, violin, caval, Arve Hendriksen – trumpet, vocals, spinet, Jarle Vespedtad – drums, Haavard Wiik – piano, spinet, Ernst Reijseger  - cello
label: Winter&Winter 

2003 - Maria Pia de Vito Tumulti
Maria Pia de Vito - voice; Patrice Heral - dr/perc; Paul Urbanek – piano, Ernst Reijseger – cello
label: Manifesto rec.

2002 - Ernst Reijseger & Franco d'Andrea I love you so much it hurts
Franco d'Andrea – piano, Ernst Reijseger – cello
label: Winter&Winter 

1982/reissued 2002 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves Cellotape – Scotchtape Alan Purves - dr/perc, Ernst Reijseger – cello
label: Data Records 822

2001 - Kakyoku
Music of Fumio Yasuda with Chamber orchestra 
label: Winter&Winter 

2001 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan "Gunga" Purves TA
Ernst Reijseger – cello, Alan "Gunga" Purves - dr/perc, live in Santa Barbara 1987 
label: Nimbus West Records

1979/2001 - Sean Bergin & Ernst Reijseger Mistakes
Ernst Reijseger – cello, Sean Bergin, s-sax,t-sax, flute & pennywhistle 
Org label: Broken Records (now DATA Records) 

2000 - Gräwe Reijseger Hemingway Counterfactuals
Ernst Reijseger – cello, Georg Graewe – piano, Gerry Hemingway - drums 
label: Nuscope

2000 - Amsterdam String Trio Winter
Amsterdam String Trio 
compostions of Maurice Horsthuis 
Maurice Horsthuis, viola; Ernst Glerum, double bass, Ernst Reijseger – cello
label: Winter&Winter

1999 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves & Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei "Colla Voche" 
Ernst Reijseger – cello, Alan Purves - dr/perc and Tenore e Concordu de Orosei - voices 
label: Winter&Winter

1999 - Moondive III (Double cd) 
Live concert with Ray Anderson (USA) trombonw; Mola Sylla (Senegal) voice; Eddie Veldtman (Surinam) drums; Lesley Joseph (Curaçao) bass; Michel Godard (France) tuba; Ruben van Roon (Holland) dj + percussion 

1997 - Ernst Reijseger Colla Parte
Ernst Reijseger - cello solo
label: Winter&Winter