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Carel Kraayenhof bandoneon


Bandoneonist | Composer

Born in Waalre (NL) in 1958, Carel Kraayenhof was eight years old when he first laid his eyes on a piano music book. Kraayenhof discovered music to be his greatest passion and it has always been a very important way for him to communicate.

In the mid ’70s Carel was highly influenced by his brother Jaap with Irish, Scottish and English folk music, and he learned to play the melodeon and the English concertina. In the early ’80s Carel had his first encounter with a bandoneon. The sounds of the instrument struck him like lightning. At that moment he knew, without a doubt, that he wanted to be a bandoneonist.

From then on his career moved at a fast pace. In 1987 he was asked by Astor Piazzolla to come play with him in New York (Tango Apasionado, a Broadway tango musical). In 1988 he was invited, together with his Sexteto Canyengue, by Osvaldo Pugliese to come to Argentina.


In 1993, Carel Kraayenhof started the Argentine Tango course at the Rotterdam Conservatorium Codarts and received the ‘Golden Nutcracker’ from the Dutch Performing Arts Association. In 1996 Sexteto Canyengue made an appearance at the Montreal Jazz Festival. In 1997 and 1998 they were headliners of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

On February 2nd 2002 his career took a giant leap forward. Carel played ‘Adiós Nonino’ at the Dutch royal wedding of HRH Prince Willem-Alexander and originally Argentinean Máxima Zorreguieta (now TRH King and Queen of The Netherlands). More than 55 million people around the world watched the ceremony. The wedding’s sound track went triple platinum. Several awards followed in the years after, including in 2003 the Edison People’s Choice Classical Award, and in 2005 an official decoration from the Argentine government for his efforts as an ambassador for the tango music. In 2012 Carel was named Officer in the Dutch Order of Oranje Nassau by HRH Queen Beatrix.

Kraayenhof’s concerts have been popular since then. Numerous national and international tours, albums, projects and collaborations with Dutch and international artists* have been taking place. He celebrated 30 years of his career with his ensemble’s last theater tour named ‘30!’. In 2018 he received an Edison Oeuvre Award Jazz/World Music for all his efforts in the Dutch music culture.

Having composed over 80 pieces, Carel Kraayenhof is also an established name for new tango and South American music. From solo pieces for bandoneón or dual with piano and sextet to full orchestra scores, all is possible in his creative mind.

Carel has played solo, with classical orchestras (for example London Symphony Orchestra) and in several long lasting collaborations with his own Sexteto Canyengue and Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble and in a duo formation with Argentinean pianist Juan Pablo Dobal. This shows his flexibility as an artist and highlights his adaptability with different music genres. Tango is his passion but making music is his way of life.

* Sting, Ennio Morricone, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kristjan Jarvi, Janine Jansen, Lavinia Meijer, Matangi Quartet, Lisa Jacobs, Youp van ’t Hek, Herman van Veen, André Hazes, Bløf, Jurk, 3J’s, Caro Emerald, Paul de Leeuw, JURK!, among others. Carel also shared the podium with Trijntje Oosterhuis, Dana Winner, René Froger, Marco Borsato, among others.

LR - Cityproms Carel Kraayenhof & Matangi Quartet - Ruben van Vliet-4.jpg


Next to Carel Kraayenhof's successful theatre programs he will be developing musical projects with classical friends for the coming seasons.


Carel Kraayenhof & Matangi Quartet

Carel Kraayenhof and reputed Matangi Quartet bring the music of Ennio Morricone to the concert stage. Carel and Morricone were musical friends, making music together. Matangi and Carel delved into Morricone's music archive and arranged a number of gems from his oeuvre for bandoneon and string quartet.

Ennio Morricone about Carel Kraayenhof:
"His interpretation is perfect and totally involved, intense and rigorous and in my opinion, he makes the instrument work in a non-traditional manner that makes it surprisingly relevant".


In a magical concert, the Matangi's and Carel express the world of Morricone and his sources of inspiration, but also the musical legacy he left behind, with composers such as Max Richter, Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass.




Photo of violinist Lisa Jacobs

The core of this program with Carel Kraayenhof and one of The Netherlands finest violinists Lisa Jacobs is Astor Piazzolla's legendary composition 'Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas' (Buenos Aires Fours Seasons). Although the four parts were not composed as a suite, they were regularly performed together by Piazzolla.

The Seasons will be combined with compositions by sisters Nadia and Lili Boulanger. Piazzolla was a student of Nadia Boulanger, who said to him after he played her one of his tango's: "Astor, your classical pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here. Never leave him behind." Piazzolla was heavily influenced by Boulanger.




Photo of Carel Kraayenhof & Marietta Petkova

Marietta Petkova (piano) and Carel Kraayenhof are two masters on their instruments, and have found each other in an autobiographical program entitled 'De Hand van de Beer' (Hand of the Bear). The idea for this program arose from admiration for each other's artistry and an undeniable connection. With folk music as the underlying theme, they perform works by Bach, Scarlatti, Schubert, and Argentinian masters such as Piazzolla and Garçia.

The compositions are interspersed with personal 'anecdotes', such as a touching story about their shared fascination for the legendary classical pianist Sviatoslav Richter. In a memorable encounter, Richter's giant hand gently held Marietta Petkova's small child's hand, inspiring Kraayenhof to compose a poetic piano piece titled 'Ruka na Metchka' ('Hand of the Bear'). A unique summit between piano and bandoneon.

The compositions alternate with personal stories, such as the one about their mutual fascination with the legendary classical pianist Sviatoslav Richter, whose giant hand once embraced Marietta's tiny child's hand and in whose honor Carel wrote a poetic piano work, which he later renamed especially for Marietta: ' Ruka na Metchka ('Hand of a Bear').

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