The Netherlands Wind Ensemble was founded in 1959 by Thom de Klerk, principal bassoonist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and teacher at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He hand picked the best pupils of the Conservatory to form the ensemble. The ensemble had achieved international success by the time de Klerk died suddenly in 1966. Conductor Edo de Waart (himself a former principal oboist in the Concertgebouw Orchestra) became music director and continued to establish it as an internationally recognized ensemble through tours and recordings. Although the core repertoire was music for woodwind octet (pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns), the ensemble regularly expanded to larger dimensions. In 1988, the ensemble re-organized with younger musicians from various Dutch orchestras replacing many long-standing members. The ensemble has cultivated a large and diverse audience through unconventional programming and juxtaposing works of Mozart and Strauss with new music (often commissioned from Dutch composers). Since 1972, the ensemble has presented a popular annual New Year concert in the Concertgebouw, which has been televised since 1995.