Born in Mansfield Nottinghamshire, near where Robin Hood lived, Bob Smissen won a scholarship to Chethams School of Music and went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music, from which he graduated with distinction. After playing with the European Community Youth Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe he took the position of principal viola with the Northern Sinfonia before joining the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with whom he has been principal viola for over 30 years.
He often performs as a soloist with the orchestra, and as a member of the ASMF chamber ensemble and the Pro Arte Piano Quartet, he has performed, broadcast and recorded all over the world. Recent recordings include the complete Brahms piano quartets and Dittersdorf duo concerto.
Robert is regularly invited to play with established ensembles, including the Brodsky and Allegri quartets, the Fleesensee Festival with Julia Fischer and friends, and the World Orchestra for Peace.
He enjoys a varied diet of music making, including teaching, coaching and education projects ranging from schools for special needs to further education. Being a father of five and having a high maintenance wife limit his other interests, but they include walking his dogs, gardening, DIY, early renaissance art, philosophy, cooking and cricket.
Recent mentions in dispatches: “I'll remember especially the vigorously splashing bulldog, the warmly felt Nimrod and, from Robert Smissen in Dorabella the subtlest, sweetest solo viola in the world.” R.F.H. Geoff Brown - The Times
“Robert Smissen’s dynamite viola solo powerfully elevated the Élégie.” Concertgebouw David Pinedo - Bachtrack.