The esteemed Belgian conductor, Philippe Herreweghe, studied piano with Marcel Gazelle at the Ghent Conservatory. He also pursued training in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Ghent, graduating in 1975. His musical training continued at the Ghent Conservatory with Gabriel Verschraegen (organ) and Johan Huys (harpsichord), where he took a prize in 1975.
In the same period Philippe Herreweghe started conducting and in 1970 (or 1969, according to Baker’s) he founded the Collegium Vocale Gent, which soon acquired distinction as one of Europe’s finest early music groups. Very soon, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt noticed his extraordinary musical approach, and invited him and the Collegium Vocale Gent to join them in their recordings of the complete J.S. Bach's cantatas. Gradually, Herreweghe's vivid, authentic and rhetorical approach of baroque music was praised everywhere and in 1977 Herreweghe founded another ensemble in Paris, La Chapelle Royale, to perform the music of the French Golden Age. Since then he started several other groups and ensembles with whom he managed to bring an adequate reading of a repertoire stretching from the renaissance to contemporary music; the Ensemble Vocale Européen, specialised in renaissance polyphony and the Orchestre des Champs Elysées, founded in 1991 to bring alive, once again, the repertoire of the romantic and pre-romantic era on original instruments.
Together with these ensembles Philippe Herreweghe built up an impressiv and diversified discography. Highlights are the recordings of J.S. Bach's vocal masterpieces [St. Matthew (BWV 244) and St. John Passion (BWV 245), the B-minor Mass (BWV 232) and the Christmass Oratorio ( BWV 248)]; the major French motets by Rameau, Lully and Charpentier; the requiem masses by W.A. Mozart, Gabriel Fauré and Johannes Brahms; Felix Mendelssohn's oratorios Elijah and Paulus; Pierrot lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg.
Since 1982 Philippe Herreweghe is artistic director of the summer festival "Academies Musicales de Saintes". Furthermore he is frequentely asked to perform as a guest conductor with ensembles like the 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. In 1997 he also became the musical director of the Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, this for a period of 3 years. It can thus hardly be a coincidence that Philippe Herreweghe received numerous signs of recognition for his consequent artistic vision and perseverant commitment towards music. In 1990 the european musical press elected him "Musical Personality of the Year". In 1993 Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent were appointed "Musical Ambassador of Flanders". A year later he was granted the order of "Officier des Arts et Lettres", and in 1997 Philippe Herreweghe became Doctor honoris causa at the Louvain Catholic University.