Ed Spanjaard was born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1948. He studied music (piano and conducting) in Amsterdam and London. From 1973 onward he worked as repetiteur and assistant conductor at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (under Colin Davis, among others), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (under Bernard Haitink) as well as with Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan. He also assisted for several years at Bayreuth, where he was involved in the preparations for the 1983 production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Georg Solti.
In 2001 he made his official debut at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. This successful collaboration has since led to frequent return engagements with that orchestra. With the Nieuw Ensemble he has conducted countless premieres, including the chamber operas composers lik Guo Wenjing, Viktor Ullmann, Robert Heppener and Franco Donatoni.