Brett Dean

From Wind Repertory Project
Brett Dean


Brett Dean (b. 23 October 1961, Brisbane, Australia) is a Australian composer, violist and conductor.

Brett Dean was raised and educated in Brisbane. He started learning violin at the age of eight, and later studied viola with Elizabeth Morgan and John Curro at the Queensland Conservatorium, where he graduated in 1982 with the Conservatorium Medal for the highest achieving student of the year. In 1981 he was a prize winner in the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. From 1985 to 1999, Dean was a violist in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2000, he decided to pursue a career as a freelance artist and returned to Australia, where his many appointments have included curating classical music programs with the Sydney Festival (2005) and the Melbourne Festival (2009). As a composer and musician, he is a regularly invited guest to many professional concert stages around the world. Brett Dean was Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne until June 2010 when his brother, Paul Dean, took up the post.

Dean began composing in 1988, initially focusing on experimental film and radio projects as well as improvisational performance. Since then, he has created numerous compositions, mainly orchestral or chamber music as well as concertos for several solo instruments. His most successful work is Carlo for strings, sample and tape, inspired by the music of Carlo Gesualdo. On 7 September 2008 his work Polysomnography for wind quintet and piano received its world premiere at the Lucerne Festival; on 2 October 2008 Simon Rattle conducted the first performance of the orchestral song cycle Songs of Joy in Philadelphia. His first opera, Bliss, based on the novel by Peter Carey, premiered at Opera Australia in 2010.

Dean's compositional style is known for creating dynamic soundscapes and treating single instrumental parts with complex rhythms. He shapes musical extremes, from harsh explosions to inaudibility. Modern playing techniques are as characteristic for his style as an elaborate percussion scoring, often enriched with objects from everyday life. Much of Dean's work draws from literary, political or visual stimuli, transporting a non-musical message. Environmental problems are the subject of Water Music and Pastoral Symphony, while Vexations and Devotions deal with the absurdities of a modern society obsessed with information.

Works for Winds