Dennis Russell Davies (biography in English)

Dennis Russell Davies is MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor since September 2020.

Dennis Russell Davies’ activities as opera and orchestral conductor, and as pianist and chamber musician, are characterized by an extensive repertory stretching from pre-Baroque to the latest music of our time. Widely considered to be one of the most innovative and adventurous conductor/programmer in the classical music world, Davies has successfully challenged and inspired audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, and in Japan. He is noted for exciting, well structured concerts and for his close working relationships with such varied composers as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Cage, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Heinz Winbeck, Aaron Copland, Lou Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Hans Werner Henze, Kurt Schwertsik, Thomas Larcher, Balduin Sulzer, and Manfred Trojahn.

Eröffnungskonzert MDR-Musiksommer in Hoyerswerda: Dennis Russell Davies dirigiert.30.09
Bildrechte: MDR/Marco Prosch

After first appointments as Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the American Composers Orchestra, which he led for 25 years, Davies moved to Europe as General Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, then Opera Bonn and the Beethovenhalle Orchestra. He subsequently led the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra Basel. In 2013, during his long and successful tenure in Linz as Chief Conductor of the Linz Opera and Bruckner Orchester, Davies inaugurated the new Linzer Musiktheater conducting the World Premier of Philip Glass’/Peter Handke’s “Spuren der Verirrten” and Strauss‘ “Der Rosenkavalier“.

Since 2018 Dennis Russell Davies is Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Filharmonie Brno. In Autumn 2020 he assumed the position Chief Conductor of the MDR Leipzig Symphony Orchestra.

Die MDR-Ensembles spielen unter der Leitung von Dirigent Dennis Russell Davies im ersten Livekonzert nach der Pandemie im Gewandhaus Leipzig.
Bildrechte: Andreas Lander

As guest conductor in the USA he has appeared with the orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Cleveland. In Europe he has worked regularly with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Concertgebeouworkest Amsterdam, and has conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, l’Orchestra Filharmonica della Scala, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, l’Orchestra Maggiore Musicale Firenze, as well as the Hamburg and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras.

Recent Opera engagements include a new production of Peter Eötvös’ ”Tri Sestry” in Frankfurt and multiple performances of “Salome” and “Wozzeck” at the Vienna State Opera. He has directed new productions at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Hamburg and Bavarian State Operas, the Opera National de Paris, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Teatro Real Madrid with more than 140 new productions by many of the theater world‘s most important stage directors.

Dennis Russell Davies’ rich discography includes complete recordings of the symphonies of Bruckner and Philip Glass (Bruckner Orchester Linz), Haydn (Stuttgarter Kammerorchester), and Arthur Honegger (Sinfonieorchester Basel). With his wife and duo partner Maki Namekawa he has recorded extensively, including works by Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovitch, Philip Glass, and Stravinsky (original four-hand versions of “Le Sacre de Printemps”, “Firebird”, and “Petrouchka”).

Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1944 Davies studied piano and conducting at the Juilliard School in New York. From 1997-2012 he was professor for orchestral conducting at the University Mozarteum Salzburg; since September 2020 he is guest professor at the Janacek Academy of Music and performing Arts in Brno.

Dennis Russell Davies is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Österreichische Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, as well as the title “Commandeur des Arts et Lettres” bestowed by the French Government.