Jac van Steen was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands and studied conducting at the Brabants Conservatory of Music. In September 1985 his participation in the BBC European Conductor's seminar resulted in guest engagements with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 1986 to 1990 he was conductor and music director of the Bach Choir in Nijmegen. He was also Music Director of the National Ballet, Amsterdam, a post which he held up until the end of the 1993-94 season. The Bochumer Symphoniker in Germany appointed him in the 1992-93 Season as their permanent guest conductor, a position which he held until September 1994.
As of September 1997, Jac van Steen has been chief conductor of the Nuerenberg Symphony Orchestra in Germany and in September 1999 was also appointed Chief Conductor and Music Director of the New Berlin Chamber Orchestra.
In August 2002 Jac van Steen was appointed Music Director of the Deutsches National Theater Weimar and chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Weimar (up to August 2005) and in that same year he was appointed chief conductor of the Musikkollegium Winterthur, Switzerland.
As per August 2007, Jac van Steen has been appointed General Music Director of the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Theatre Dortmund. His first visit to the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London in 1997 lead to immediate return engagements, CD recordings and his Proms debut. Various return engagements for studio concerts, invitation concerts and Cd recordings are planned for the future.
In August 2005 he returned to the Proms with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which also marked the formal start of his appointment as Principle Guestconductor with this orchestra. Besides his BBC engagements, he worked with various other orchestras and ensembles in the U.K., such as the London Sinfonietta, the Royal Scottish Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra, the CBSO Birmingham and Opera North.
He is a regular guest conductor with the finest Dutch and German orchestras. Beside his activities as a conductor, Jac van Steen also teaches conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. Working with young musicians and students are of great importance to him and he frequently works with the Bundesjugend Orchestra Berlin, the Chetham School of Music, the Festival of Young Musicians in Bayreuth and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.