Dutch conductor and violinist (b. 16 February 1856 in Dordrecht; d. 21 February 1934 in Munich).
After studying the violin in Leipzig, Brussels and Berlin, he played in the Amsterdam Parkorkest from 1877, becoming its conductor in 1883. He also conducted the Toonkunst choir in the Dutch capital (1879–1889), as well as the orchestra in his home town of Dordrecht (1883–1888), while touring the Netherlands and Germany as a violin soloist.
From 1888 he was principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, leaving that post in 1895 to direct the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow. He was engaged as conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Society in 1898, but returned to Germany in 1905 to become director of the music conservatory and orchestra in Koblenz.
In the autumn of 1893 Tchaikovsky accepted Kes's invitation to conduct at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in March 1894, but within a week of writing his letter of reply the composer was dead.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
The aforementioned letter from Tchaikovsky to Willem Kes has survived, and has been translated into English on this website: