Jaap van Zweden was born in Amsterdam, Holland, on December 12, 1960. He studied violin from age five at the behest of his pianist father. Van Zweden enrolled at Juilliard at 16, and three years later began his 16-year stint with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw
. His teachers at Juilliard included the iconic Dorothy DeLay.
In 1990, at the suggestion of Leonard Bernstein
, van Zweden led the Mahler
First Symphony in a rehearsal performance, and Bernstein
encouraged him to conduct. Van Zweden quickly cultivated his podium skills and in 1997 was appointed chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra
, holding the post until 2003. In 2000 he took on another assignment, conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague. With this ensemble he recorded the nine Beethoven
symphonies for Philips