Dutch conductor, composer and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw was born in Amsterdam on 8 September 1938 to psychiatrist parents. He studied piano from the age of seven, and then music theory and piano at Amsterdam Conservatoire, then composition with Dutch composer and teacher Kees van Baaren at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag, where he later taught.
He became well-known as a conductor and pianist, performing mostly contenporary music, and pushing established conservative organisations to programme modern music.
He was a regular conductor of various major ensembles and orchestras in the Netherlands and abroad, including the Asko Ensemble, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Dutch National Opera, Nederlandse Reisopera. the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, New Sinfonietta Amsterdam, the New World Symphony, Residentie Orchetra The Hague, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minneapolis and the Dutch public radio orchestras.
He was guest artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1992, and artistic director of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music (1994-98). He was the centre figure of Amsterdam Concertgebouw's Carte Blanche series in 1995-6.
From 2004 he was professor of performing and creative arts of the 19th, 20th and 21st century at Leiden University. He also lectured at Juilliard in New York.
He recorded mostly for the Philips, Koch and Nonesuch labels.
His own music included included orchestral works, wind band music, vocal music, chamber music and piano pieces.
He wrote a book about Charles Ives and another containing musical essays, and he collaborated on an internationally acclaimed film documentary series featuring twentieth century composers such as Górecki, Gubaidulina, Ligeti, Messiaen and Vivier.
Reinbert de Leeuw died on 14 February 2020 in Amsterdam, aged eighty-one.