Bryce Dessner is a vital and rare force in new music. He has won Grammy Awards both as a classical composer and with the band The National, of which he is founding member, guitarist, arranger, and co-principal song-writer. He is also an increasingly high-profile presence in the world of film score composition. The breadth and level of Dessner’s creative output is remarkable.
Dessner’s rapidly expanding body of works is commissioned by the world’s leading ensembles, from Orchestre de Paris and London Philharmonic Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, and Carnegie Hall.
Few artists are able to bridge diverse creative worlds with such virtuosity, and he regularly collaborates with some of the world’s most respected artists. These include Philip Glass, Alejandro González Iñarritú, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Caroline Shaw, Johnny Greenwood, Bon Iver, Justin Peck, Ragnar Kjartansson, Kelley O’Connor, Nico Muhly, and Steve Reich, who named Dessner “a major voice of his generation.” His orchestrations can be heard on the new albums by Paul Simon and Bon Iver, among others.
In 2018 Bryce Dessner was named one of a collective of eight "extraordinary artists, thinkers and doers" to help steer the artistic leadership of Esa-Pekka Salonen when he takes over as San Francisco Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director from September 2020.
Dessner was Grammy and Golden Globe nominated for the soundtrack of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning The Revenant co-written with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto. Further film score credits include The Kitchen for Warner Bros. (2019) as well as The Two Popes starring Anthony Hopkins by Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles (2019).
Major classical works include Concerto for Two Pianos (2018) written for Katia and Marielle Labèque and premiered by London Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded for release on Dessner’s album El Chan on Deutsche Grammophon in 2019; Voy a Dormir (2018) written for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and St. Luke’s Orchestra; Skrik Trio (2017), commissioned by Steve Reich and Carnegie Hall; No Tomorrow (a ballet by Ragnar Kjartansson, Margrét Bjarnadóttir and Bryce Dessner, 2017 and winner of Iceland’s Griman Award); and Wires (2016), commissioned for Ensemble Intercontemporain and Matthias Pintscher.
In 2019, Gautier Capuçon and his seven-cello ensemble premiered Dessner’s The Forest, newly commissioned by Fondation Louis Vuitton; Australian Chamber Orchestra toured Dessner’s iconic work Réponse Lutoslawski across Australia; and Los Angeles Philharmonic and Roomful of Teeth premiered the major new theatre piece by Dessner integrating the work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Triptych (Eyes for One on Another). Meanwhile the Metropolitan Museum in New York, for one of its first ever contemporary installations, featured the song Death is Elsewhere co-written by Dessner.
Dessner’s other albums include St. Carolyn by the Sea on Deutsche Grammophon (2014); Music for Wood and Strings (2015); and Aheym, commissioned by Kronos Quartet (2009). Further releases in 2019 include When We Are Inhuman, a collaborative album between Dessner, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and Eighth Blackbird; and an album of Dessner’s string compositions performed by Ensemble Resonanz.
Dessner is very active as a curator and is regularly called upon to program festivals and events around the world. He has crafted weekend residencies in his name at Barbican London, 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 in Cork; and PEOPLE.
Dessner is principal songwriter for The National along with his brother Aaron, in collaboration with singer/lyricist Matthew Berninger. In spring 2019 the band released their latest studio recording, I am Easy to Find, collaborating with film director Mike Mills.
Bryce Dessner lives in Paris.