Dennis Russell Davies

Dennis Russell Davies studied piano and conducting at Juilliard School in New York City, and went on to launch his career as orchestra conductor at the head of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In Germany he held the post of Generalmusikdirektor at the Opera of Stuttgart, at then at the Bonn Beethovenhalle Orchestra, the International Beethoven Festival, and the Opera of Bonn. He went on to work as Chief Conductor of Vienna RSO and of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. From 1997 to 2009 he held a professorship for conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Further stages in his career include his time as opera music director and chief conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz from 2002 to 2017, and as chief conductor of the Basel Symphony Orchestra from 2009 to 2016. Starting with the 2018/19 season, Dennis Russell Davies has been appointed Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Brno Filharmonie (Czech Republic); then, in the 2020/21 season, he was named Chief Conductor of the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the course of his career, Russell Davies has conducted the most renowned opera orchestras in Europe and North America. After his début at Bayreuth Festival, he guested at Salzburg Festival, at Hamburg and Munich State Operas, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at the Opéra National de Paris, at Teatro Real in Madrid, and at Vienna Staatsoper. In the course of his music career spanning over half a century, Dennis Russell Davies has always shown intense commitment in making contemporary music known to wider audiences: he was an early defender of composers of the likes of Philip Glass, Aaron Copland, Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio, John Cage, Hans Werner Henze, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Gija Kantscheli, Arvo Pärt, Manfred Trojahn, and Laurie Anderson. Russell Davies has conducted a great number of opera world premieres, including two operas from Philip Glass’s renowned trilogy, Satyagraha and Akhnaten (at Stuttgart State Opera), as well as Henze’s Die englische Katze and König Hirsch. In New York in 1977, Davies founded the American Composers Orchestra, which he conducted for over 25 years, devoting his activities to world premiere performances of many works by North- and South American composers.

Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa met for the first time at the Ruhr Piano Festival in 2002. Then, in 2003, after the resounding success of their joint performance at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, they decided to start appearing regularly as a piano duo. In the US they have guested in New York City, San Francisco, and other major cities. In Europe they have performed at a great number of events, including the Rheingau Festival (Germany), Klangspuren (Austria), and the Transart Festival (Italy). They also make regular appearances at the Ruhr Piano Festival. In 2008, on the occasion of the Ruhr Piano Festival’s 20th anniversary, the audience acclaimed their world premiere performance of Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos, commissioned by the Festival. The American premiere thereof took place in 2009 at Lincoln Center Festival. In 2013 they teamed up with Katia and Marielle Labèque to present the world première of Glass’s Two Movements for Four Pianos, another Festival commission. In 2017 the annual Ruhr Piano Festival Prize was jointly awarded to Maki Namekawa, Dennis Russell Davies, and Philip Glass, three artists who have cultivated a fruitful friendship with the Festival for many years.
Their recording of Alexander Zemlinsky’s arrangement of The Magic Flute for piano four hands was first published as part of the Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr in 2006: the music press promptly acclaimed this world premiere release. Two further releases followed in 2007 and 2009: Zemlinsky’s arrangement of Beethoven’s Fidelio (Vol. 16), and the boxed set American Piano Music (Vol. 21) with works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Philip Glass. In 2010 the duo recorded Zemlinsky’s four-hand arrangements of Haydn’s oratorios The Seasons and The Creation as Vol. 24 of the Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr.

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