Theo Verbey (5 July 1959 - 13 October 2019) was a Dutch composer of contemporary classical music whose style has been described as “energetic and appealing.”  He first achieved recognition with his orchestral arrangement of Alban Berg's Piano Sonata op.1, a piece he orchestrated in 1984 while he was studying at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. That work is still widely performed and has been recorded twice, appearing on both the Chandos and Decca labels.

Recent activities:

Recent commissions include  "After the Great War" written for Tampere Philharmonic and the Residentieorkest The Hague, “ Traurig wie der Tod ”, a work for orchestra and chorus premiered as part of the AVROTROSVrijdagconcert series by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Choir, conducted by James Gaffigan, as well as “Lumen ad Finem Cuniculi”, written for philharmonie zuidnederland and conducted by Dmitri Liss. The Brodsky Quartet commissioned Verbey to provide a segment for their celebrated song cycle, “Trees, Walls, Cities.” Verbey composed “4 Preludes to Infinity” for The Stolz Quartet, a work which is included on their CD, Dutch Masters and Their Inspiration. More recently, the duo Andrea Vasi & Sebastiaan Kemner performed “Ballade”, a work for trombone and piano written especially for them. Verbey has twice received commissions for new works from the celebrated Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, for his compositions "Alliage" and "LIED". In the 2009-2010 season, Theo Verbey was invited to be Composer-in-residence for the Brabant Philharmonic Orchestra's 60th anniversary season, where his piece "Orchestral Variations" was performed to commemorate that festive celebration.


Theo Verbey was a gifted collaborator whose works are often heard beyond the concert stage. He worked on multiple occasions with Dutch choreographer Regina van Berkel, resulting in her ballets "Memory of a Shape" with Ballet Mainz, and "Frozen Echo" with Ballet am Rhein. “Memory of a Shape” will receive its Dutch premier in 2017, when it is reprised by Introdans. In 2012, Verbey provided a new piano work, La Malinconia, for van Berkel's ballet "Simply Marvel", a commission from the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York City. He has also collaborated with Klangforum Wien on their “Free Radicals” program, providing a score for Man Ray’s 1923 film, “Retour à la Raison.” Award-winning harpist Godelieve Schrama included a newly-commissioned work by Verbey in her performance piece, “La
harpe, c’est moi ,” and Verbey also collaborated with Orkest Morgenstond in creating a song for school children.


His compositions, described as “vividly imagined and rhythmically swinging”, have been performed repeatedly by almost all major Dutch orchestras and ensembles including: the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, The Hague Philharmonic, ASKO|Schönberg Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble and Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Jaap van Zweden, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Markus Stenz, Robert Spano, and Santtu-Matias Rouvali have all conducted Verbey's works.

International ensembles and orchestras that have performed his works include: Tampere Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Klangforum Wien, Münchener Kammerorchester, Tanglewood New Music Ensemble, and the Esprit Orchestra Canada.


Completions and Orchestrations:

Theo Verbey's completion of Stravinsky's 1919 version of  "Les Noces" was chosen in 2010 by Princess Beatrix to be performed at her palace in The Hague as part of the annual "Queen's Day Concert". The performance, featuring 16 vocalists and pianola, two cembaloms, harmonium and percussion, has subsequently been performed during the Muziekfest Berlin. Verbey’s demonstrated respect for Alban Berg again came into play when he was asked to provide string orchestra arrangements for the three remaining movements of the Lyric Suite, making it possible to program the complete suite in the string orchestra version. This version has since been performed extensively, and has been recorded twice, appearing on the Harmony Mundi and Toccata Classics labels. Verbey has also orchestrated three Mussorgsky song cycles (Sunless, the Nursery, and Songs and Dances of Death), which are regularly performed. He has arranged Scriabin’s Preludes op. 33, as well as Three Choral Preludes by J.S. Bach for oboe, violin, viola and cello.

Educational activities:

As a composer, Theo Verbey had a strong commitment to the education of young musicians. He taught at his alma mater, the Royal Conservatoire of Music in The Hague, starting in 1984. In 1995, he also joined the faculty of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam/Amsterdam University of the Arts.

Verbey was a passionate follower of current events and belonged to a reading club devoted to keeping abreast of modern thought. Verbey was born on July 5, 1959 in Delft. His earliest musical memories involve singing nursery songs with one of his six aunts. Later on, he started playing the recorder, and singing in the boys’ choir of his grammar school.  He began composing at the age of seven, when he wrote small pieces for his school orchestra. During his high school years, he also wrote some pop songs as well as music for a jazz/rock band. Verbey was married to the Dutch/American translator and violinist Eileen Stevens.


Contemporary Classical Music Composer

Theo Verbey (5 July 1959-13 October 2019) was the Dutch composer of modern classical music best known for his elegant and rhythmically transparent compositions, characterized by careful and rich instrumentation. His contemporary classical music makes a real connection with listeners.

To purchase or rent sheet music or scores

Theo Verbey's music is published by
Deuss Music
Fijnjekade 160
2521 DS Den Haag, Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)70 345 08 65


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