Robert Holl was born in Rotterdam. In 1971 he won the First Prize at the International Vocal Competition in s’-Hertogenbosch, followed by studies with Hans Hotter in Munich. In 1972 he won the First Prize at the International Music Competition of the German Broadcasting Association (ARD) in Munich, which resulted in television and radio engagements and orchestral concerts. Between 1973 and 1975 he was a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich.
After numerous years as a sought-after concert singer and Lieder recitalist, in the 1980s Robert Holl acquired a renewed interest in singing opera. He has appeared at the Staatsoper Wien, at the Brussels and the Zurich Opera as Sprecher and Sarastro Die Zauberflöte, Amfortas Parsifal, Gremin Eugene Onegin, Basilio Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, Assur Semiramide, Alfonso Cosi fan tutte, La Roche Capriccio, Wassermann Rusalka, and Robert Des Teufels Lustschloss with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Franz Welser-Möst. From 1999 to 2002 Robert Holl appeared as Landgraf Hermann Tannhäuser, Commendatore Don Giovanni, Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Daland Der Fliegende Holländer at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. He sang Hans Sachs again in 2005 under Barenboim, in 2008 under Peter Schneider at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and in a new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Köln Opera staged by Uwe-Eric Laufenberg. At the Wiener Staatsoper he has been heard in many different Wagner productions as Landgraf Hermann Tannhäuser, König Marke Tristan Und Isolde (with conductors Christian Thielemann, Franz Welser-Möst and Peter Schneider), Gurnemanz Parsifal (with conductor Donald Runnicles), and as Pimen Boris Godunov (in a new production under Daniele Gatti).
From 1996 to 2002 consecutively, he appeared with great success in Bayreuth as Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (under conductors Daniel Barenboim and Christian Thielemann); from 2004-2007 he was Bayreuth´s Gurnemanz in Christoph Schlingensief´s production of Parsifal (under conductors Pierre Boulez and Adam Fischer); in 2008 and 2009 he sang König Marke Tristan und Isolde in a production by Christoph Marthaler; and he returned to Bayreuth in the same role in 2011 and 2012.
For many years Robert Holl has been a much sought-after concert singer, which has enabled him to acquire a wide range of repertoire. He has appeared with the most renowned conductors, including Karajan, Giulini, Jochum and Richter, and with orchestras in Europe, America, and Japan. Robert Holl is also one of the most important Lieder singers of our time, having a particular preference for the German (especially Schubert) and Russian repertoires. He sings regularly to great acclaim in all the great music centres in Europe, Israel, the USA, Russia, and Japan. He is Artistic Director of Schubertiade in Austria and Holland, as well as artistic advisor to the ‘Poetry and Music’ series in the Brahmssaal of the Vienna Musikverein.
In 1990 Robert Holl was awarded the prestigious Austrian title of Kammersänger, and in 1997 he was named an Honourable Member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien and of the Carinthischer Sommer Festival. In 1998 he became a Professor for Lied and Oratory at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, and in 2005 he was awarded the Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst I. Klasse. In 2007 he received the prestigious Dutch award of Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw in his home town of Rotterdam.