Fred Jacobs studied lute and theory with Anthony Bailes at Amsterdam's Sweelink Conservatory. A founder member of the The Locke Consort (first prizes during the eighties at London and Boston), he plays regularly with such as the Gabrieli Consort and Players, The Parley of Instruments, Currende Consort, the Amsterdam Bach Soloists, the Baroque Orchestra of the Nederlands Bachvereniging and the Monteverdi Continuo- Ensemble from the Bavarian State Opera (Münchner Festspielpreis 1997).

Many, such as Anne Azéma, Michael Chance, Max von Egmond, and Maarten Koningsberger have Fred Jacobs as their regular accompanist. He performs at major early music Festivals such as Utrecht, Beaune, Venice, York and San Antonio. Conductors have included Gustav Leonhardt, Christopher Hogwood, Robert King and Andrew Parrot. He performs with the opera houses of Nancy, Bath, Munich, Amsterdam and Florence. His recordings on CD are varied and numerous.

With Carolyn Watkinson, Fred Jacobs runs workshops on the lute-accompanied English songs. He also gives masterclasses at the conservatories in Rotterdam, Arnhem and Amsterdam (where he was appointed to the lute, in 1995).

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