LIFEM | 13-16 November 2024

Robert Smith

Robert Smith is a viola da gamba and cello player from Yorkshire.

Since winning the Bach-Abel Viola da Gamba Competition in Köthen in 2012 Robert’s life as a basso-continuo player and soloist has taken him down many interesting and varied paths. He has regularly criss-crossed Europe from his home in Amsterdam to play baroque music with many leading ensembles and orchestras. Robert is a member of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and with his own ensemble Fantasticus he has recorded critically acclaimed CDs for Resonus Classics. He is Professor of viola da gamba and historical cellos at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne.

In music as in life Robert likes to get off the beaten path. His CDs often feature previously unrecorded repertoire such as the lyra-viol music on Tickle the Minikin and the virtuoso Jenkins duets with his former teacher Paolo Pandolfo on The Excellency of Hand. He enjoys exploring different genres of music and working with artists from other disciplines. This has led to interesting performances such as playing Metallica songs for death-defying acrobats in historical circus tents.

As a solo player Robert has had live concerts broadcast by BBC Radio 3, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and worked as a soloist for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 2017 Robert released one of the first ever recordings of Telemann’s newly discovered Fantasias for solo viola da gamba, which The Observer reviewed as ‘playing of exceptional quality’. His 2019 release La Gracieuse with music by Marin Marais was Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice.

Robert plays on a bass viola da gamba made by Pierre Bohr in Milan. His baroque cello made by Guust Francois is loaned to him by the Dutch Nationaal Muziekinstrumentenfonds. He studied viola de gamba with Mieneke van der Velden (Amsterdam) and Paolo Pandolfo (Basel). He also studied baroque cello with Wouter Möller, Jaap ter Linden and Viola da Hoog.