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Brett Dean

Associate composer

Portrait de Brett Dean

INTERVIEW

This is the second season of collaboration with the Australian Brett Dean and his vibrantly colourful scores, imbibed with deep humanity. Two new works are on the programme: a concerto for piano, Gneixendorf Music, and a cantata, In This Brief Moment.

  • What bonds have you formed with the Orchestre national de Lyon ?
  • B. D. : Two of my works have been programmed by the ONL, in 2003 and in 2007, when I played my Viola Concerto. As an “associate” composer and performer, I lay down bridges to the music of our times for both instrumentalists and the audience. This dialogue is just as rewarding for me.
  • Tell us about your works on this season’s programme.
  • B. D. : Gneixendorf Music is a 250th anniversary tribute to Beethoven; it echoes the finale of his Emperor Concerto – the scoring is identical – and delves into his troubled mind, during his last autumn in Gneixendorf, in 1826. In this Brief Moment is an “evolution cantata” set to a libretto by Matthew Jocelyn inspired by Darwin. It questions man’s complex role in nature.
  • For someone as concerned about ecology as you are, is it moving to conduct Beethoven’s Pastorale ?
  • B. D. : Absolutely. Beethoven found solace and creative stimulus in nature. It’s reflected in the very structure of the Pastorale. I often played the viola part in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and I’m very excited to be conducting it for the first time at the head of the ONL.
  • What is the composer’s role today ?
  • B. D. : Despite the challenges it raises, our era is more prosperous, stable and concerned for others’ welfare than Europe was in 1938, for example. Of course, we shouldn’t take anything for granted and music can not change the world. But what a privilege it is to express yourself in the silence and sharing of a concert hall! I hope it lasts !

BIOGRAPHY

After studying in Brisbane, Australian composer and violist Brett Dean moved to Germany in 1984, where he was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years. He began composing in 1988, initially focusing on experimental projects for the cinema and radio, and performing as an improviser. He gained international recognition through works such as his clarinet concerto Ariel’s Music (1995), which won an award from the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, the piano quintet Voices of Angels (1996) and Twelve Angry Men (1996), written for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s 12 cello players. In 2000, Dean returned to Australia to spend more time composing. He now divides his time between Melbourne and Berlin.

Today, Brett Dean is one of the most prominent composers on the international scene, and his works are regularly programmed by such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelson, David Robertson, Marin Alsop and Simone Young. Besides the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Dean has received commissions from the Berlin Radio Choir, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Proms, the Lucerne Festival, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the BBC, Melbourne, Sydney and Birmingham Symphony Orchestras.

Brett Dean’s music often has a literary, political or visual starting point. A number of his compositions took their inspiration from paintings produced by his partner, Heather Betts. His most frequently-performed work to date is Carlo, for strings, sampler and pre-recorded tape (or live chorus). Inspired by the music of Carlo Gesualdo, this piece has already been performed over 120 times. Dean’s first opera, Bliss, set to a libretto by Amanda Holden based on Peter Carey’s novel of the same name, was first performed in 2010 in Sydney. His second opera, Hamlet (to a libretto by Matthew Jocelyn based on Shakespeare) was first performed in 2017 at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Recent highlights include a commission, Notturno inquieto, for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, concertos for electronic violin and for cello, and Approach, written as “an introductory movement before Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6”. The latter was first performed by the composer himself with Tabea Zimmermann and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.

In 2002/2003, Brett Dean was artist-in-residence with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and composer-in-residence at the Cheltenham Festival. He has held residencies at the Grafenegg Festival and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as composer, violist and conductor. He was associate composer with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin (under the direction of Vladimir Jurowski) for the 2018/2019 season).

Reproduced by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes / Intermusica.

Concerts 2020/2021

Auditorium-Orchestre national de Lyon

04 78 95 95 95
149 rue Garibaldi
69003 Lyon

L’Auditorium et l’Orchestre national de Lyon : la musique au cœur de la cité. 160 concerts par saison : concerts symphoniques, récitals, ciné-concerts, jeune public, jazz, musiques actuelles et musiques du monde, mais aussi ateliers, conférences, afterworks…