Philippe Herreweghe is principally known as the music director of Bach. On one interview with La Scena Musicale (November 1997), he described his ensembles as a poupée russe, the Russian dolls that fit one inside the other. He explained that his Baroque instruments group for Bach and German repertoire is presented by Collegium Vocale Gent, the first ensembles group he constructed in 1970. While for bigger works and French Baroque, he applied to La Chapelle Royale, a French ensemble for Baroque music that Herreweghe found in 1977. Moreover, for even bigger classial and romantic works, he referred to Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, orchestra he formed in 1991 that specializes in the performance of music from the period roughly 1750 to the early twentieth century. That is, it covers the period from the flourishing of Haydn to that of Mahler. Philippe Herreweghe also arranged Ensemble Vocal Européen de la Chapelle Royale that specialises in Renaissance polyphony. The Collegium Vocale Gent were one of the first ensembles to use new ideas about baroque performance practice in vocal music. They perform at the major concert venues and music festivals of Europe, Israel, the United States, Russia, South America, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
Born in Ghent, Belgium May 2, 1947, Philippe Herreweghe decided to enroll in the University of Ghent to study medicine and psychiatry. Along with studying at the University, Philippe also studied piano at the Ghent Conservatory with Marcel Gazelle. Further, he continued his musical study to learn harpsichord with Johan Huys and organ with Gabriel Verschraegen at the same conservatory.
Since 1982, Philippe Herreweghe has been the artistic director of Festival de Saintes, the summer festival that was originally based on repertoire of baroque music and widened to renaissance, contemporary, and worldwide. In 1998 to 2002, he was the chief conductor of DeFilharmonie (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders) and then appointed to become the Hoofddirigent (principal conductor) with the orchestra.
He has conducted many reputable ensembles group including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Dutch Broadcasting Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Concerto Köln, Ensemble Musique Oblique, Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Wiener Philharmoniker, Orchestra of Saint Luke’s (New York), and Berliner Philharmoniker.
To the degree of his tremendous contribution in classical musics, Philippe Herreweghe has received many rewards including "Musical Personality of the Year" from the European musical press in 1990 and voted as the European Musician of the Year, "Musical Ambassador of Flanders" in 1993 with the Collegium Vocale Gent, and "Officier des Arts et Lettres" in 1994. In 1997 he received the prestige to become Doctor honoris causa at the Louvain Catholic University.
Over his tenure in classical music, Philippe Herreweghe has contributed with more than 100 recordings wit hall different ensembles. His dedication in classical music is ranging from working on the collection of Bach to Mahler. Including in his discography are his recordings of Requiem masses by Mozart, Johannes Brahms; Felix Mendelssohn's oratorios Elijah and Paulus; Pierrot lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg, and Beethoven Symphonies.