The band was founded in 2011 by Rafał Luc (accordion) and Ian Anderson (viola) – two students at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Since 2021, the ensemble featured Rafał Zalech on the viola.
The band is named after the late Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart – one of the doyens of avant-garde rock. The duo aims to explore its own limits and expand its repertoire for both instruments. The patron’s spirit guides Duo van Vliet’s commissions, leading them to create new, experimental versions of his works.
The duo’s debut album, Lachrymae ReVisited (Orchid Classics), was high on the shortlist for the 2018 Scottish Awards for New Music. The ensemble’s successes also include the Polish première of Georg Friedrich Haas’ Double Concerto for accordion, viola and chamber ensemble, with the New Music Orchestra in Katowice, as well as a recital at the St Magnus Festival recorded by BBC Radio 3.
The list of composers who received creative commissions from Duo van Vliet includes Rafał Augustyn, Nikolet Burzyńska, Cezary Duchnowski, Mikołaj Laskowski, Paweł Malinowski, Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil, Adam Porębski, Marta Śniady, Piotr Tabakiernik, Andrew Thomas and Rafał Zapała.