Dennis Russell Davies

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Dennis Russell Davies (born April 16, 1944, Toledo, Ohio) is an American conductor and pianist. He studied piano and conducting at the Juilliard School, where he received his doctorate. A champion of living composers and modern music including Hans Werner Henze, William Bolcom, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, John Cage, Philip Glass, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pärt, Virgil Thomson, and Aaron Copland, Davies has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous pieces by living composers, along with the standard classical works.

His recordings of note include Copland's Appalachian Spring with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1979, for which he won a Grammy Award; Arvo Pärt Fratres and Miserere; and many of Philip Glass's operas and symphonies, including the 5th symphony, which is dedicated to Davies. He premiered Glass's 10th symphony to a standing ovation at a 2012 New Year's concert in Anton Bruckner Concert Hall, Linz. On Glass's 80th birthday, January 31, 2017, Davies premiered Glass's 11th symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York.[1][2] Lou Harrison's 3rd Symphony is also dedicated to Davies.

Davies served as Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 1972 to 1980. Together with the composer Francis Thorne, he founded the American Composers Orchestra in New York in 1977, and served as its music director until 2002.[3] Davies served as music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic from 1991 to 1996.

In 1980, he moved to Stuttgart, Germany when he served as General Music Director of the Baden-Württemberg State Opera House from 1980 to 1987. There he premiered two Philip Glass operas, along with many standard operas, often in productions with innovative and unusual staging. He has worked with many directors, including Robert Altman in a collaboration on Salome in Hamburg. He has also held permanent posts with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Beethovenhalle Bonn (1987–95), and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Davies has been chief conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz and the Linz Opera since 2002. He is scheduled to conclude his tenure in Linz in 2017.[4] In March 2008, Davies was named the third music director of the Sinfonieorchester Basel, effective with the 2009-10 season, for an initial contract of five years.[5][6] He is scheduled to conclude his Basel tenure at the end of the 2016-2017 season.[7]

Davies has also led many festival orchestras, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, which he directed from 1974 to 1990, and the Saratoga Music Festival. He conducted The Flying Dutchman at the Bayreuth Festival, the second American to conduct there and one of the youngest. Davies is a Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum.

Davies has had a long-standing association with the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. He has conducted Jarrett in classical concerto repertoire (including Mozart and Lou Harrison) and has himself performed Jarrett's music for piano and conducted Jarrett's orchestral music (featuring Jarrett as soloist as well as saxophonist Jan Garbarek).


  1. ^ Robin, W., "Philip Glass Celebrates His 80th Birthday With an 11th Symphony", The New York Times, Jan 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Grella, G., "At Philip Glass’ 80th birthday party, audience gift is his joyous Symphony No. 11", New York Classical Review, Feb 1, 2017.
  3. ^ Anthony Tommasini (2002-04-17). "True to His Mission, Davies Bows Out With Orchestra". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Markus Poschner wird neuer Linz Opern- und Orchesterchef". Die Presse. 2015-02-22. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  5. ^ Julie Bloom (2008-03-21). "Arts, Briefly: Basel Symphony Names Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  6. ^ Georg Rudiger (2010-02-05). "Der das Profil schärfen soll". Badische Zeitung. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  7. ^ "Ivor Bolton wird Chefdirigent des Basler Sinfonieorchesters". Der Standard. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Leopold Sipe
Music Director, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Succeeded by
Pinchas Zukerman
Preceded by
Silvio Varviso
Music Director, Baden-Württemberg National Theater
Succeeded by
Luis Garcia Navarro
Preceded by
Gustav Kuhn
Music Director, Beethovenhalle Orchestra
Succeeded by
Marc Soustrot
Preceded by
no predecessor
Music Director, American Composers Orchestra
Succeeded by
Steven Sloane
Preceded by
Martin Sieghart
Principal Conductor, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
Succeeded by
Michael Hofstetter
Preceded by
Pinchas Steinberg
Principal Conductor, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Bertrand de Billy
Preceded by
Martin Sieghart
Music Director, Bruckner Orchestra Linz
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Marko Letonja
Music Director, Sinfonieorchester Basel
Succeeded by