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 Mill’s C’mon C’mon and the forthcoming Bardo, by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Dessner collaborates with some of today’s most creative and respected artists, including Philip Glass, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Paul Simon, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sufjan Stevens, Fernando Mereilles, Thom Yorke, Bon Iver, Nico Muhly, and Steve Reich, who named Dessner “a major voice of his generation.” Dessner’s orchestrations can be heard on the latest albums of Paul Simon, Bon Iver and Taylor Swift.
Bryce Dessner has had works commissioned and premiered by today’s leading conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Semyon Bychkov, and Santtu Matias-Rouvali. This season alone sees performances of his works by, amongst others, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra, HR Sinfonieorchester, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. New works Violin Concerto - commissioned by partners including Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony - and Mari, commissioned and performed by Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Czech Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra - have been met with widespread public and critical success.
In addition to his role as one of eight San Francisco Symphony Collaborative Partners, Bryce Dessner is currently Artist-in-Residence at London’s Southbank Centre and with Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Major works include Concerto for Two Pianos premiered by Katia & Marielle Labèque, 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 theatre piece integrating the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and premiered by Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dessner also scored the music - involving full orchestra and a 200-member choir - for the Louis Vuitton show at the Louvre in Paris as part of Paris Fashion Week 2020.
Dessner’s recordings include El Chan; 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 the Australian String Quartet. Dessner’s other film score credits include The Two Popes, which won Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack awards; C’mon C’mon (2021) directed by Mike Mills and Cyrano (2021), the major musical by Joe Wright.
Also active as a curator, Dessner is regularly requested to programme festivals and residencies around the world at venues such as at the Barbican, Philharmonie de Paris, and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. He co-founded and curates the festivals MusicNOW in Cincinnati, HAVEN in Copenhagen, Sounds from a Safe Harbour and PEOPLE.
Bryce Dessner lives in France.
Photo by Shervin Lainez