Brett Dean studied in his hometown, Brisbane, before moving to Germany in 1984 where he was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic for fourteen years, during which time he began composing. His music is championed by many of the leading conductors and orchestras worldwide, including Sir Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Simone Young, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Marin Alsop and Sakari Oramo. Much of Dean’s work draws from literary, political, environmental or visual stimuli, including a number of compositions inspired by artwork by his wife Heather Betts.
Brett Dean wurde in Australien geboren und studierte dort, bevor er nach Deutschland zog, wo er vierzehn Jahre lang Mitglied der Berliner Philharmoniker war und zu komponieren begann. Seine Musik wird von führenden Dirigenten und Orchestern weltweit geschätzt, darunter Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons und Marin Alsop. Ein Großteil von Deans Werken basiert auf literarischen, politischen, umweltbezogenen oder visuellen Anregungen, darunter auch eine Reihe von Kompositionen, die durch die Kunstwerke seiner Frau Heather Betts inspiriert wurden.
Brett Dean was born and studied in Australia before moving to Germany, where he was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic for fourteen years, during which time he began composing. His music is championed by many of the leading conductors and orchestras worldwide, including Sir Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Simone Young, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Marin Alsop and Sakari Oramo. Much of Dean’s work draws from literary, political, environmental or visual stimuli, including a number of compositions inspired by artwork by his wife Heather Betts.
Brett Dean began composing in 1988, initially concentrating on experimental film and radio projects and as an improvising performer. Dean’s reputation as a composer continued to develop, and it was through works such as his clarinet concerto Ariel's Music (1995), which won an award from the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and Carlo (1997) for strings, sampler and tape, inspired by the music of Carlo Gesualdo, that he gained international recognition.
Dean won the 2009 Grawemeyer Award for music composition for his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing and was awarded the 2016 Don Banks Music Award by Australia Council, acknowledging his sustained and significant contribution to Australia’s musical scene. In June 2017 his second opera Hamlet was premiered at Glyndebourne Festival Opera to great acclaim, winning both the 2018 South Bank Sky Arts Awards and International Opera Awards for Best New Opera. Other major works by Dean include a Piano Concerto for Jonathan Biss, a Cello Concerto for Alban Gerhardt and a Trumpet Concerto for Hakan Hardenberger. Recent new works include an orchestral work for the Bayerische Staatsorchester and a new work for two sopranos and orchestra for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2022 Dean was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for Chamber Ensemble composition for Madame ma bonne sœur, written for mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and the Armida Quartet.
Dean enjoys a busy performing career as violist and conductor, performing his own Viola Concerto with many of the world’s leading orchestras. He is a natural chamber musician, frequently collaborating with other soloists and ensembles including the Doric Quartet, Scharoun Ensemble, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australian National Academy of Music. Dean’s imaginative conducting programmes usually centre around his own works combined with other composers. Highlights include the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra BBC Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and he was Composer in Residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 2019-2023.
Brett Dean is Composer in Residence at Wigmore Hall for the 2023/24 season, where he has curated a series of programmes and features as conductor and performer. Highlights include performances with Apartment House, Robin Tritschler, Armida Quartet, Lotte Betts-Dean, Doric Quartet, Lawrence Power and the Nash Ensemble. As part of the residency, Benjamin Grosvenor give the first complete performance of Dean’s Hommage Etudes, including the premiere of a new solo piano work, co-commissioned by Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore Hall and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Other highlights of the 2023/24 season include the world premiere of a new work for soprano and ensemble commissioned by Scharoun Ensemble to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and the French premiere of In This Brief Moment with the Orchestre National de Lyon. Elsewhere, Dean performs duo recitals with Lotte Betts-Dean, conducts the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in a programme featuring Diyang Mei and is Composer in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music.
Brett Dean’s music has been recorded for BIS, Chandos, Warner Classics, ECM Records and ABC Classics. Highlights include a BIS release in 2016 of works including Shadow Music, Testament, Short Stories and Etudenfest performed by Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dean; his Viola Concerto has also been released on BIS with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The DVD of Hamlet was released by Glyndebourne in June 2018 and won a Gramophone Award in 2019.
Dean begann 1988 zu komponieren und erlangte internationale Anerkennung durch Werke wie sein Klarinettenkonzert Ariel's Music (1995), das mit dem UNESCO Composers Award ausgezeichnet wurde, und Carlo (1997), das von der Musik Carlo Gesualdos inspiriert ist. Im Jahr 2009 gewann Dean den Grawemeyer Award für sein Violinkonzert The Lost Art of Letter Writing; im Juni 2017 wurde seine zweite Oper Hamlet an der Glyndebourne Festival Opera unter großem Beifall uraufgeführt und bei den South Bank Sky Arts Awards und mit einem International Opera Award ausgezeichnet. Dean tritt auch bei vielen der weltweit führenden Orchester, Ensembles und Festivals als Dirigent und Bratscher auf, oft mit seinem Violakonzert oder Kammermusik.
In der Saison 2023/24 ist Brett Dean Composer in Residence in der Wigmore Hall, wo er eine Reihe von Programmen und Auftritten als Dirigent und Interpret kuratiert hat. Die Residency umfasst die erste vollständige Aufführung von Deans Hommage Etudes sowie die Uraufführung eines neuen Soloklavierwerks, das vom Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, der Wigmore Hall und dem Chicago Symphony Orchestra gemeinsam in Auftrag gegeben wurde. Weitere Höhepunkte der Saison 2023/24 sind die Weltpremiere eines neuen Werks, das vom Scharoun Ensemble in Auftrag gegeben wurde, und die französische Erstaufführung von In This Brief Moment mit dem Orchestre National de Lyon. Darüber hinaus gibt Dean Liederabende mit Lotte Betts-Dean, dirigiert die Deutsche Radio Philharmonie und ist Composer in Residence an der Royal Academy of Music.
Composer in Residence, Wigmore Hall (2023/24)
06 November 2023, 19:30
Arthur Benjamin: Hedgerow
Eliot Carter: Dust of Snow
Gerald Finzi: Song of Hiems
Benjamin Britten: Winter Words, Op.52
Peter Maxwell Davies: Seven Skies of Winter
Franz Schubert: Fahrt zum Hades, D. 526
Franz Schubert: Die Krähe D.911
Franz Schubert: Nachtstück D672
Franz Schubert: Der Tod und das Mädchen, D.531, Op.7, No.3
Franz Schubert: Nachthymne D687
Hans Abrahamsen: Schnee: Canon 1
Brett Dean: Winter Songs
with Robin Tritschler (tenor); Apartment House; Brett Dean (conductor)
11 January 2024, 19:30
Beethoven: Piano Quartet No.1 in E-flat, WoO. 36
Brett Dean: Imaginary Ballet
Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 2 in A, Op. 26
22 January 2024, 19:30
Schumann (arr. Dean): Three Poems of Queen Mary Stuart, op.135
Janáček: String Quartet No.2, JW.7/13 "Intimate Letters"
Brett Dean: Madame ma bonne sœur
with Lotte Betts-Dean (mezzo-soprano) and Armida Quartet
20 April 2024, 11:30
Brett Dean: Hommage à Bach: I. Prelude
Brett Dean: Hommage à Kurtág
Brett Dean: Music for Drakenstein (World Premiere)
Brett Dean: Etude: Hommage à Janácek
Brett Dean: Etude: Hommage à Lutoslawski
Brett Dean: Hommage à Bach: II. Chorale (Transcription of J.S.Bach’s "Gute Nacht, o Wesen" from BWV.277)
Brett Dean: Faustian Pact (Hommage à Liszt) (UK Premiere)
Brahms: 4 Pieces for Piano, Op.119: I. Intermezzo in B minor
Brett Dean: Hommage à Brahms: I. Engelsflügel 1 (Angels’ Wings 1)
Brahms: 4 Pieces for Piano, Op.119: II. Intermezzo in E minor
Brett Dean: Hommage à Brahms: II. Hafenkneipenmusik (Harbourside Bar Music)
Brahms: 4 Pieces for Piano, Op.119: III. Intermezzo in C major
Brett Dean: Hommage à Brahms: III. Engelsflügel 2 (Angels’ Wings 2)
Brahms: 4 Pieces for Piano, Op.119: IV. Rhapsody in E flat major
with Benjamin Grosvenor (piano)
20 April 2024, 15:00
Brett Dean: String Quartet No. 3 "Hidden Agendas"
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quintet No. 1 in A Op. 18
Brett Dean: String Quartet No. 2 “And once I played Ophelia”
with Doric String Quartet; Brett Dean (viola); Jennifer France (soprano)
20 April 2024, 19:30
Heinrich Biber: Partita No. 7 from "Harmonia Artificioso - Ariosa"
William Byrd: Three Fantasias
George Benjamin: Viola, Viola
Brett Dean: some birthday...
William Byrd: Pavan ('The Earl of Salisbury')
William Byrd: Galliard
William Byrd: The Bells
Brett Dean: Byrdsong Studies
Brett Dean: Approach (Prelude to a Canon)
J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B-flat major, BWV.1051
with Brett Dean (viola, viola d'amore); Lawrence Power (viola, viola d'amore); Nash Ensemble; Xiaowen Shang (harpsichord)
Brett Dean’s career as conductor is blossoming alongside his work as composer and performer, his imaginative programmes usually centred around his own works combined with those of other composers.
Recent conducting highlights include the Sydney Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Tonkünstler-Orchester, Northern Sinfonia and as Artist in Residence with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
A selection of Brett Dean’s recent and future conducting programmes
Strauss Till Eulenspiegel
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola and Orchestra
Dean Beggars and Angels
Lutoslawski Sacher Variation for solo cello
Lutoslawski Symphony No.3
Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor
R. Meale Clouds Now and Then
Thomas Meadowcroft Peacemaker Tattoo
Lisa Illean Land's End
Georges Lentz "Caeli enarrant ..." III
Brett Dean Engelsflügel
Anthony Pateras Immediata
Beethoven Adagio molto e mesto (from Rasumovsky Quartet No.1, Op.59) arr. Dean
Beethoven Symphony No.3 ‘Eroica’
Jean Sibelius Scènes historiques, Op.25, No.1 ‘All'overtura’
Brett Dean Dramatis Personae
Jean Sibelius Symphony No.3 in C major, Op.52
Brahms Academic Festival Overture
Bruch Double Concerto for viola and clarinet (play/direct)
Dean Ariel’s Music (clarinet concerto)
Brahms Tragic Overture
Mozart Prelude & Fugue in D minor K. 405/4 (after J.S. Bach, BWV 877)
Brett Dean Short Stories No. 1 & 2 (Devotional; Premonitions)
Mozart Adagio & Fugue in E major, K. 405/3 (after J.S. Bach, BWV 878)
Brett Dean Short Stories No. 3 & 4 (Embers; Komarov’s Last Words)
Mozart Adagio & Fugue in B minor (after J.S. Bach, BWV 849)
Brett Dean: Short Stories No 5 (Arietta)
Beethoven Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"
Brett Dean's Viola Concerto
Commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic & Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
“Having done so many pieces in recent years that tell an extra-musical story, or have a poetic or literary title, it seemed fitting that this should be a piece that examines first and foremost purely musical ideas... It’s nevertheless an essay in which I inhabit part-sonic and part-lyrical words as in much of my music... I’m treating it the same as a concerto I’d write for any other viola soloist, and certainly want to give myself something that I personally enjoy playing in terms of challenge, expression and virtuosity.”
Brett Dean on his Viola Concerto
Duration: 27 minutes
Performances past and future include: BBC Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, St Louis Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Hamburg Philharmonic, Tonkunstler Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Residentie Orkest, Trondheim Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic
Viola Concerto conductors: Marc Albrecht, Lionel Bringuier, Baldur Brönnimann, Reinbert de Leeuw, André de Ridder, Olari Elts, Rumon Gamba, Marko Letonja, Hannu Lintu, James MacMillan, Sakari Oramo, Peter Oundjian, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgards, François-Xavier Roth, Bramwell Tovey, Simone Young, Lothar Zagrosek
Viola Concerto Reviews
“Dean is a top-flight viola player as well as an upwardly mobile composer. His new Viola Concerto is a substantial affair, elegantly proportioned and full of colourful musical imagery." Guardian
"Dean has written something as personal as one would expect. The haunting and arresting sounds are all his own, and bright colours suggest a strong connection to his country’s landscape. Indeed, the peaceful close, in which the previously hectic solo viola emerges purified, evokes a lullaby in which the earth seems to be singing itself to sleep." The Times
“Each element of Dean's brilliant orchestration could be savored, as well as his own virtuosic playing.” Los Angeles Times
“...tightly structured and well-proportioned... Dean is a fine soloist, too, throwing off the blazingly virtuosic passages with unruffled ease while sustaining a strong, full-bodied tone. His orchestration is imaginative, full of evocative colours and striking effects” The Australian
“…Dean has lost none of his virtuosity as a performer, while confirming his reputation as an up-and-coming craftsman-composer… Curiously beautiful, somewhat enigmatic? No question.” Financial Times
Doric Quartet & Brett Dean:
Haydn String Quartet Op.20 No.1
Brett Dean Epitaphs (string quintet)
Brahms Quintet No.2 in G maj Op.111
Doric Quartet & Brett Dean – Ophelia Songs
Haydn String Quartet Op.76 No.65
Brett Dean String Quartet No.2 “And Once I Played Ophelia”
Brahms Ophelia Songs WoO.22 (arr Reimann)
Brahms String Quintet No.2 in G maj Op.111
Viola & Mezzo-soprano Duo
Brett Dean & Lotte Betts-Dean
Ralph Vaughan Williams Prelude from Three Vocalises
Stuart MacRae The Lif of this World
Sally Beamish Buzz
Arthur Bliss The Dandelion
Erin Gee Mouthpiece I
Brett Dean Sketches for Siegbert
Giacinto Scelsi Hô I
Morton Feldman Only
Paul Hindemith Gute Nacht from Die Serenaden
Michael Berkeley Sonnet for Orpheus from Three Rilke Sonnets
Brett Dean I Starred Last Night, I Shone
Brett Dean performs a range of chamber music projects; future highlights include projects with Alban Gerhardt, the Scharoun Ensemble and at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Conductors who have recently conducted Brett Dean’s music include:
A voice of fertile imagination, originality and expressive subtlety.
...the two works here show Dean to be a formidable and musical player as well as an impressive composer. The Viola Concerto confirms the impression it made at its first performance… It is one of Dean's most successful orchestral works, an asymmetrical, three-movement structure that pivots about a dark, central scherzo.
…a towering masterpiece. Multi-layered and rhythmically complex, Fire Music’s imaginative depth, sophistication and sheer impact marks it as one of the most important works to come from an Australian composer.