Written by: Brett Dean It was a fortuitous day, that day in West Berlin back in May, 1986 on which I first met the Australian rock musician, Simon Hunt. I’d been living in Berlin for a couple of years by then,
Brett Dean studied in his hometown, Brisbane, before moving to Germany in 1984 where he was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic for fourteen years, during which time he began composing. His music is championed by many of the leading conductors worldwide, including Sir Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Simone Young and Sakari Oramo. Much of Dean’s work draws from literary, political, environmental or visual stimuli, including a number of compositions inspired by artwork by his wife Heather Betts.
Brett Dean began composing in 1988, initially concentrating on experimental film and radio projects. It was through works such as his clarinet concerto Ariel’s Music (1995), which won an award from the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and Carlo (1997) for strings, sampler and tape, inspired by the music of Carlo Gesualdo, that he gained international recognition.
In 2009 Dean won the Grawemeyer Award for music composition for his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing and in 2016 was awarded the Don Banks Music Award by Australia Council, acknowledging his sustained and significant contribution to Australia’s musical scene.
Dean enjoys a busy performing career as violist and conductor, performing his own Viola Concerto with many of the world’s leading orchestras. Dean is also a natural chamber musician, frequently collaborating with other soloists and ensembles to perform both his own chamber works and standard repertoire.
In the 2020/21 season, Dean began a three-year tenure as Composer in Residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which sees an immersion in Dean’s music and Dean working with the orchestra across multiple strands, as conductor, violist and mentoring the Young Composer scheme. His opera Hamlet receives its highly-anticipated US premiere at The Met in May 2022.
Brett Dean’s music has been recorded for BIS, Chandos, Warner Classics, ECM Records and ABC Classics. Highlights include a BIS release in 2016 of works including Shadow Music, Testament, Short Stories and Etudenfest performed by Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dean. The DVD of Hamlet was released by Glyndebourne in June 2018 and won a Gramophone Award in 2019.
The works of Brett Dean are published by Boosey & Hawkes.