Born in 1965, Marco Blaauw studied at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam, later continuing his studies with Pierre Thibaud and Markus Stockhausen. “I first heard New Music on television as a child. I saw how people in the audience covered their ears with their hands. That was exactly what I wanted – for people to make an effort and be surprised at what they are hearing.”
Why this instrument? At first, a practical decision: “I grew up in a village. There was a band there, and it needed a trumpet player.” Then one of his life’s goals: “I always had a picture in my head of a troubadour spreading the latest news. That’s what I want to do too – with my trumpet.” And: “The trumpet has been neglected in many regards. I see this as my appointed task – to develop the technique of the trumpet and to interest composers in the instrument.”
Important focus for Marco Blaauw has always been to further develop the trumpet, it’s playing technique, and to initiate new repertoire. Blaauw works in close collaboration with composers of our time. Many works have been written especially for Blaauw, including compositions by Peter Eötvös, Georg Friedrich Haas, Wolfgang Rihm, Rebecca Saunders, Martijn Padding, Isabel Mundry, Richard Ayers, Gijsbrecht Roye, and John Zorn. Blaauw worked intensely with Karlheinz Stockhausen. Flying over the orchestra in a gimbaled cage, he played the leading role in Stockhausen’s MICHAELs REISE. He presented the premier of HARMONIES for Trumpet for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and has premiered many solo roles from the opera cycle LICHT. In 2015 he started working with La Monte Young on The Second Dream of the High Tension Line Stepdown Transformer. Since then he produced many concerts to share La Monte Young’s groundbreaking work for audiences in Europe.
Marco Blaauw’s work is widely documented through radio, television and CD recordings. His sixth solo CD, Angels, was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2014. As a composer, Blaauw was awarded the 2016 Karl Sczuka Prize for his first radio play, deathangel. Blaauw has been intensely active as a teacher at international master classes in Darmstadt and Lucerne and as a faculty member for the Masters aus LICHT program at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague.
Since 1993, Marco Blaauw has been a member of Ensemble Musikfabrik. The group of 16 international soloists take all business and artistic decisions as a collective and have been innovative leaders in contemporary music since their formation. Next to their outstanding performances of conducted ensemble repertoire, the ensemble develops interdisciplinary projects; solo, chamber, and ensemble music repertoire; and works using open form and improvisation.
The ensemble’s guest list is as prominent as it is long: It includes Mark Andre, Louis Andriessen, Stefan Asbury, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Unsuk Chin, Péter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Toshio Hosokawa, Michael Jarrell, Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lang, Liza Lim, Benedict Mason, Mouse on Mars, Carlus Padrissa (La Fura dels Baus), Emilio Pomàrico, Enno Poppe, Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Rundel, Rebecca Saunders, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ilan Volkov and Sasha Waltz.
Ensemble Musikfabrik is supported by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Kunststiftung NRW supports the series “Musikfabrik in WDR”.
“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air.”
– JF Kennedy, 1963
Global Breath is an international research and concert project comparing the archaic role of the trumpet with its use by pioneering trumpet players today.
Supported by the Kunststiftung NRW and the Société Gavigniès, Blaauw works with a small team on the realization of this project.
Searching worldwide, the group interviews trumpet „pioneers“ who have achieved iconic importance on the instrument in an attempt to answer the question, „Is the sound of the trumpet a basic common link between humans?“
Global Breath also serves to create an audio-visual archive of iconographic sounds and interviews to increase the availability of online resources for brass practitioners and researchers.
Definition Monochrome: „Consisting of or displaying images in black and white or in varying tones of one colour“ (based on Greek monokhrōmatos ‘of a single colour’.)
Inspired by his collaboration with the American composer La Monte Young, Marco Blaauw founded a trumpet ensemble in 2015 to explore the enormous variability of trumpet sounds and playing techniques within the framework of a wide variety of projects and through the development of diverse compositions.
The ensemble is focused on the sound of the trumpet to show its astonishing variety. Through duplication, dense sound fields, subtle color changes, gradual and extreme dynamic curves, as well as motion, shifting distances, and perspectives, the single timbre becomes both the sonic foundation and accentuating highlight.
The Monochrome Project proves that less can also be more.
From 2015 to 2017, the ensemble gave several performances of La Monte Young’s “The Second Dream of The High Tension Line Step Down Transformer.” In 2018, the European premiere of “composition 103” by Anthony Braxton was staged and received rave reviews from audiences at the Ruhrtriennale and the Huddersﬁeld Contemporary Music Festival. In 2020, a series of concerts featuring new works by Elnaz Seyedi, Justè Janulytè, and Márton Illés was planned for the ensemble. Because only one concert of this scheduled series could be performed, all three works were produced for radio and video in cooperation with WDR.
Through old traditions of free improvisation and contemporary exchange with composers of our time, Blaauw keeps developing performances and repertoire.
Most recent: Julien Jamet, (Glossomanie), Rebecca Saunders, (i.a. YES for ensemble, White for trumpet solo), Georges Apreghis (Intermezzi for 15 soloists), John Zorn (Merlin), Georg Friedrich Haas (I can’t breathe), improvisation duo’s with Marcus Schmickler, Gijsbrecht Roije and Yannis Kiriakides.
Blaauw (coproduction with Deutschland Funk, label BVHaast)
HOT (coproduction with Deutschland Funk, label BVHaast)
blue dog (coproduction with Deutschland Funk, label BVHaast)
Angels (coproduction with Deutschland Funk, label BVHaast)
Michaels Reise (coproduction with Deutschland Funk, label BVHaast)
Improvisations (duo with Gijsbrecht Roije, bass cither, coproduction with World Edition)
play robot dream (duo with Yannis Kyriakides, live electronics, coproduction with Unsounds)
Global Trumpets Festival
Is the sound of a trumpet part of a language that connects all people? Does it evoke a collective memory of an ancient form of communicating with each other – and what might this mean to us today? How do we connect with one another, through music and otherwise, regardless of age, origin, and gender?
These questions were at the beginning of a worldwide research project by trumpeter Marco Blaauw, at which time he met trumpet professor Laura Vukobratović. This encounter sparked the initiative to organize an international trumpet festival in cooperation with the Folkwang University of the Arts.
The Global Trumpets Festival highlights many exciting aspects of the trumpet: from different playing styles and genres to the underrepresentation of women and lack of diversity in the professional scene.
The inaugural Global Trumpets Festival took place 25-30 September 2021 in a hybrid online and in-person format. Musicians, students, teachers, and scholars from different continents came together to make the trumpet and other lip-reed instruments resound.
Detailed information about the program available at
It is apparent that Blaauw has the technical and musical prowess to perform these contemporary works with conviction and musical expression. All these works challenge the trumpeters range, flexibility and endurance, yet Blaauw manages to perform with grace and ease… (John Burgess).
2006 June, ITG Journal
Met Zimmermanns trompetconcerto ‘Nobody knows the trouble I see' kregen we de fenomenale speeltechniek van de trompettist Marco Blaauw erbij. Zijn loepzuivere intonatie, de ragfijne details en zijn vermogen om zelfs in de meest verstilde passages iedere toon secuur neer te zetten, gaven het concerto een intense gloed.
2009 De Standaard, Antwerpen
Rebecca Saunders‘ „Alba“ für Trompete solo – hier mal wieder unübertroffen Marco Blaauw, der mit Georg Friedrich Haas‘ Solo „I can't breathe“ elegisch brillierte –
2015, Neue Musik Zeitung
Whatever the material, Blaauw’s readings have a lot of space and dynamics, and always a crystal clear tone that he occasionally ruffles and musses…. It’s a different kind of solo recording, a rich feast.
2006 July, Cadence
...wie Marco Blaauw als Michael-Trompeter inmitten des teuflischen Orchestertreibens von Luzifer in einer Solokadenz um das Schöne und Vollkommene rang, das berührte zutiefst: Für einen Moment schien die Zeit stillzustehen.
2013 Neue Züricher Zeitung
Eötvös’s Snatches of a Conversation, Playing a double bell trumpet, which allowed him to alternate rapidly between different mutes, Marco Blaauw transcended the work's limitations and illuminated its strengths.
2006, February, seen and heard concert review
de oermuzikale Blaauw kan klanken produceren waarvan je het bestaan niet had vermoed, maar hij is ook een poeet. Vooral deze kant krijgt op Angels alle vrijheid.
2015, Het Parool
...wie die auf dem Höhepunkt des wüsten Totentanzes von Marco Blaauw unwiderstehlich gespielte Piccolo-Trompete. Die kommende Überwindung Luzifers, des Widersachers und Bösen...
2013 Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Blaauw” (“Blue” in Dutch.) Blaauw took us on a journey of various sounds and textures - strident moments, far-off echoes, doubling effects...a mesmerizing work of small sections, well punctuated, very introspective.
2007, November, Jerusalem
Harmonien, a fifteen-minute trumpet solo episode from the Fifth Hour (a BBC commission receiving its first performance in the Royal Albert Hall): a series of twenty-four melodies...a dazzling performance by Marco Blaauw.
2008, August, Times online
Only Stockhausen would have dared it...a lone trumpeter came on to the platform and, in between long burnished notes, announced, word by word, the phrase "Lob sei Gott!" - "Praise your God!"
This was the opening gesture of his late work Harmonien, commissioned by the BBC, which was being given its world première by the astonishing Dutch trumpet virtuoso Marco Blaauw. Even for a confirmed atheist like me there was something moving in that naïve, imperious command
2008, August, Telegraph
HARMONIEN (‘Harmonies’)...was an opportunity for solo trumpeter, Marco Blaauw, to shine and he took it – with mesmerising musicality, theatricality, and virtuosity.
2008, August, www.operacritic
Kulenty’s Concerto sounded as perfectly well as on its premiere 8 years ago. […] Marco Blaauw, its addressee, proved once again that he was an ideal performer of the work, and nobody could rival him as far as trumpet virtuoso art and emotional commitment are concerned
2011 Ruch Muzyczny magazine, Poland
LUZIFER’s TANZ: Blaauw’s alternation between unmuted and muted trumpet, to which certain extended techniques were added, was as flawless as one would expect, yet nevertheless deserving of comment. His unsuccessful – dramatically, that is – yet impressive soliloquy marked an especial highpoint.
2008, November, seen and heard international
Insane Climax of minimal Music Festival!
The Second Dream of La Monte Young was easily the highlight of the fifth edition of the World Minimal Music Festival.
2017, Het Parool, Erik Voermans
…The soloist Marco Blaauw was outstanding…managing to communicate Michael's raw rage and indignation even as he was playing lying on his back.
2008 November, MUSICALCRITISISM.COM
… “Michaels Reise” is as arresting as anything you will see in an opera house…and, to top it off, a movable crane attached to an open cage in which the trumpet virtuoso Marco Blaauw, as a punkish, wild-eyed Michael, takes his trip...this mesmerizing Michael soars in his rotating cage above groups of instrumentalists, all the while playing with authority, imagination and, when called for sassiness…
2013 July, New York Times
Marco Blaauw, who swooped bravely about the stage atop a moving crane, trumpeted fearlessly in the title role.
2013 July, Financial Times
There were pre-echoes of the Stravinsky in Pintscher’s own Chute d’Étoiles... Written for two trumpets – the awesome Marco Blaauw and Tine Thing Helseth in this case –a magical wash of alluring, spectral colourings
2013, May, 17, Thescotsman.com
Marco Blaauw, the high-flying hero of Ensemble musikFabrik's Michaels Reise at the Lincoln Center Festival last summer, has a riveting new CD called Angels, containing "sound images of winged creatures"
2013, 12, 17 Alex Ross
...it occurred to me that there could be few other musicians who would be capable—scratch that: allowed!—to perform both Stockhausen and La Monte Young
in two different festivals in the space of a month. From memory (naturally), in both cases. The idea that a single musician could somehow shoulder the gargantuan weight of these ‘titans’ and their verlags is something to contemplate.
lawrencedunn.co.uk, 2 0 1 5 Reviewing HCMF & LCMF 2015
Angels: 10 pieces all feature one or more trumpets, with the remarkable playing of Marco Blaauw as the focus...with the huge range of weird and wonderful sounds that Blaauw can extract from his instrument.
2014, January 16, The Guardian