The 18th century symphony in Holland? It was up there with London, Vienna and Mannheim.

With its hustle and bustle of international trade, its trend-setting music publishing industry and its active court and public music life, cosmopolitan 18th-century the Netherlands was an effervescent international hub of exciting musical creation and export.

In the middle of the century, composers in the Netherlands maintained close ties with their European colleagues, particularly those working at the highly influential and glittering court at Mannheim, Germany – the birthplace of the symphony and symphony orchestra. Leopold Mozart stated that the radiance of Mannheim “illuminated the whole of Europe”. Equally inspired by the Mannheimers’ visionary symphonic excellence, composers in the Netherlands developed their own charged-up and distinctive symphonic tradition.

The two largest centres of musical practice and endeavour in the Netherlands were the trading city of Amsterdam and the court city of The Hague. Both cities were highly cosmopolitan and internationally orientated by nature.

During the mid-18th century, Dutch Stadholder William IV and his wife Anna van Hannover (also referred to in English as Anne of Orange), daughter of King George II of England, and a favourite student of Handel, took up permanent residence in the...