Key Leadership Biographies
Bryce Dessner is a vital and rare force in new music. He has won Grammy Awards as a classical composer and with the band The National, of which he is founding member, guitarist, arranger, and co-principal songwriter. He is regularly commissioned to write for the world’s leading ensembles, from Orchestre de Paris to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and is a high-profile presence in film score composition, with credits including The Revenant, for which he was Grammy and Golden Globe nominated; Fernando Mereilles’s The Two Popes; Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon; Bardo, by Alejandro González Iñárritu; and Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me. His other film score credits include Cyrano (2021), the major musical by Joe Wright.
Mr. Dessner collaborates with some of today’s most creative and respected artists, including Philip Glass, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Sufjan Stevens, Thom Yorke, Nico Muhly, and Steve Reich. His orchestrations can be heard on the latest albums of Paul Simon, Bon Iver, and Taylor Swift.
Mr. Dessner has had works commissioned and premiered by today’s leading conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Semyon Bychkov, and Santtu Matias-Rouvali. Recent seasons have seen performances of his works by, among others, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony. Autumn 2022 saw Mr. Dessner as composer-in-residence at European festivals including the Approximation Festival and November Music. In the 2023–24 season he is the Creative Chair of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.
In addition to his role as one of eight San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partners, Mr. Dessner is currently Artist-in-Residence at London’s Southbank Centre and with Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Major works include a Concerto for Two Pianos, premiered by Katia and Marielle Labèque with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon; Violin Concerto, premiered and performed internationally by Pekka Kuusisto; Trombone Concerto for Jorgen van Rijen, commissioned by Dallas Symphony and L’Orchestre National d’Île de France; Voy a Dormir for mezzo soprano Kelley O’Connor and Orchestra of Saint Luke’s and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Skrik Trio for Steve Reich and Carnegie Hall; the ballet No Tomorrow, co-written with Ragnar Kjartansson; Wires for Ensemble Intercontemporain; The Forest for large cello ensemble, Gautier Capuçon, and Fondation Louis Vuitton; and Triptych (Eyes for One on Another), a major theater piece integrating the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and premiered by Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mari—commissioned and performed by Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, and BBC Symphony Orchestra—has been met with widespread public and critical success. He also scored the music, which involved full orchestra and a 200-member choir, for the Louis Vuitton show at the Louvre in Paris as part of Paris Fashion Week 2020.
Mr. Dessner’s recordings include El Chan and St. Carolyn by the Sea (both Deutsche Grammophon); Aheym, commissioned by Kronos Quartet; Tenebre, an album of his works for string orchestra recorded by Germany’s Ensemble Resonanz and which won a 2019 Opus Klassik Award and a Diapason d’Or; When we are inhuman with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Eighth Blackbird (2019); and Impermanence (2021) with Australian String Quartet, which won the Libera Award.
Also active as a curator, Mr. Dessner is regularly requested to program festivals and residencies around the world at venues such as at the Barbican, Philharmonie de Paris, and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. He cofounded and curates the festivals MusicNOW in Cincinnati, HAVEN in Copenhagen, Sounds from a Safe Harbour, and PEOPLE.
Bryce Dessner lives in France.