Thomas Dausgaard

Chief Conductor, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Chief Conductor, Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Music Director Designate (19/20) & Principal Guest Conductor, Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Honorary Conductor, Orchestra della Toscana / ORT
Honorary Conductor, Danish National Symphony Orchestra / DR

Biography

Thomas Dausgaard is Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. From 2019/20 he will become Music Director of the Seattle Symphony, and currently serves as their Principal Guest Conductor. He also holds titles as Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana (ORT), and of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, having previously served as its Chief Conductor from 2004–2011.

He is renowned for his creativity and innovation in programming, the excitement of his live performances, and his extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed recordings. His programming in recent seasons has seen an increased focus on the exploration of influences to be found in folk and liturgical music on orchestral works by a range of composers including Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Nielsen and Bartok.

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Recent News

Thomas Dausgaard Receives Honorary Doctorate from Örebro University

Conductor Thomas Dausgaard has received an honorary doctorate from Örebro University in Sweden for “his creativity and innovation in programming, the excitement of his live performances, and his extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed recordings”. “It is a real...

Reviews

“Fired up by its kinetic Danish conductor, Thomas Dausgaard, this versatile ensemble performed the musical selections in the first half without breaks, drawing a dramatic arc that proved emotionally satisfying and intellectually stimulating.”

New York Times

“… A performance bursting with life – punchy and packed with virility … A passionate Thomas Dausgaard secured clarity, energy and momentum … Triumph over tribulation has never been so exhilarating.”

Classical Source

More Reviews

“… astonishingly gripping … refinement with fierce intensity …  Dausgaard teased out Strauss’s orchestral subtleties in an interpretation at once beautiful, rapturous and strikingly sombre.”

The Guardian Aug 22nd 2018

“ … this was without doubt a Proms season highlight; if not the season highlight … This performance of Nørgård’s Third was, quite simply, an unforgettable experience.”

Seen and Heard International Aug 22nd 2018

“For Nielsen, the Fourth expressed the fundamental Life Force, the élan vital, in short ‘the Inextinguishable’ that underpins all existence, and Dausgaard captures this underlying mood to perfection, through all the subtle gradations and layerings of light and shade … Dausgaard’s mastery of transition is both peerless and priceless … the Seattle Symphony’s new disc goes straight to the top of the pile, both performances ranking with the very best.”

Europadisc Jan 2018

“… this Seattle Symphony recording of Symphonies No. 3 and 4 could well be the first installment of what will eventually be hailed as the Nielsen cycle of the 21st century.”

Stereophile Dec 17th 2017

“I’ve never heard a more convincing performance … All the participants excelled … Every moment is delightful.”

New York Times Nov 17th 2017

“… a magnificent ‘Missa Solemnis’ that transcends … I stopped taking notes three minutes into the piece, when I began to tremble and had to get out my handkerchief, which never left my hand until I had to put it away in order to join the prolonged standing ovation at the end … The conductor managed every whiplash transition as if it were not only the most natural thing in the world but the only thing possible. Control yielded when emotion overwhelmed, but beauty of expression never wavered, and never flinched from the truth: pain hurt, marvels stunned, and humanity stood before the infinite in awe and wonder, with pity and fear … Thomas Dausgaard led the whole thing with blazing intent …”

Zeal NYC Nov 14th 2017

“Dausgaard led the orchestra with intensive body-language, dancer-like, balanced and flexible, with every fiber of his stature calling for attention. And the orchestra immersed itself into this impressive reading, which the audience greeted with stormy applause.”

Bachtrack Oct 16th 2017

“Prom 37 began with a moment to make the heart stop … Thomas Dausgaard expertly steer[ed] the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra through a beautifully-organised forest of melody … immaculately played.”

The Scotsman Aug 19th 2017

“The sound-world that Dausgaard established was fresh and sweet: a ravishing sheerness from the violins; a supple, sprung pulse from the basses; musky or forthright brass and woodwind solos warmed by the violas and cellos; a collective delicacy and expressivity … Rachmaninov’s melodies have put on weight from being so well loved. Dausgaard and his players restored their youth, slenderness and spontaneity.”

The Times Aug 15th 2017

“I noted the conductor’s uncanny ability to project a sense of the necessity of the musical trajectory: as if he’s able to hold it all at once in his mind, from the very first upbeat, like a snapshot of a painting … Dausgaard treated the vast ensemble like the rich palette it is, expertly contrasting grandiose climaxes with chamber-like subtleties. The whispering string tremolos before the mighty storm shivered with delicious suspense.”

Bachtrack Jun 16th 2017

“Every detail of the rich scoring was brought out by conductor Thomas Dausgaard…the Festival Chorus has surely never sounded better…a special performance…..an eloquent case for a multi-faceted masterwork.”

Herald Scotland May 15th 2017

“Thomas Dausgaard, a regular visitor with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the turn of the millennium, never disappoints … he held the sizeable audience at Roy Thomson Hall spellbound … Dausgaard exhibited full mastery over this complex score … This was, without a doubt one of the great symphonic concerts of the season.”

Musical Toronto Apr 7th 2017

“You can tell by the wild cheering emanating from Benaroya Hall: Thomas Dausgaard is back in town…heartfelt interpretations…a tremendous enthusiasm…The players outplay themselves for him, and the excitement onstage is quickly transmitted to the audience…..This is a don’t-miss program; catch it if you can.”

The Seattle Times Mar 31st 2017

“Genius … a superb concert, brilliantly sequenced and quite immaculately performed.”

Herald Scotland Feb 2nd 2017

“ … a devastatingly powerful recording … This is a performance of huge conviction and outrageously good musicianship which makes a devastating impact … an absolutely blistering performance that scales the heights and plumbs the depths of musical expression … listening to it has been a truly transformative experience.”

Europadisc Dec 23rd 2016

“… the standard of execution is astonishing … I can’t remember hearing a more turbulent and propulsive rendition … In the event one can imagine the lucky patrons of Seattle’s state-of-the-art Benaroya Hall listening in rapt silence. This exceptional issue from the Pacific Northwest ought to be a game-changer for all concerned.”

Gramophone Sep 2016

“[Thomas Dausgaard’s] interpretation is among the finest I have ever heard … gorgeous .. outstanding … peerless … Wildly recommended.”

The Whole Note Aug 29th 2016

“Electrifying Tchaikovsky Four from Dausgaard … passion and power a-plenty with the opening movement a thunderous fist-shaking at a malign fate and a finale delivered in white heat.”

Seen and Heard International 

“… A performance bursting with life – punchy and packed with virility … A passionate Thomas Dausgaard secured clarity, energy and momentum … Triumph over tribulation has never been so exhilarating.”

Classical Source 

“The previous night he conducted the Munich Philharmonic and Choir in a long Bruckner programme — an exquisitely hushed Ave Maria, a lucid, luminous Second Symphony.”

Herald Scotland 

“Driven by their principal conductor Thomas Dausgaard, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra demonstrate not only an exemplary accuracy, but also a joyful energy … Between force and poetry, this recording manages to capture the inimitable spirit Mendelssohn.”

Crescendo 

“Dausgaard revelled in the music’s vitality and detailing, crisply delivered. From the off there was nothing ponderous but plenty that was expressive, and given with light and shade and an emotional opening out that avoided any sense of being merely metronomic … if there was no doubting the relish with which Dausgaard conducted, then the RPO brought resilience and enjoyment as well as undoubted connection to its guest.”

Classical Source 

“Here [Sibelius: Symphony No.1] and throughout the program, the players responded keenly to Dausgaard’s deeply engaged conducting (he led without score) … One unmissable signature is a fondness for the theatricality of Sibelius’ sudden juxtapositions. In the ‘Quasi una fantasia’ finale of the First, Dausgaard pointed up contrasts but kept them from sounding like non-sequiturs. He also accentuated the rhythmic drive of the music, whether in larger architectonic sections or in the rambunctious seven-note Scherzo theme pounded out by the timpani (played by the aptly named Matt Drumm). The tools of the Finnish composer’s language became as readily readable as the brushstrokes on a canvas … An expert in Scandinavian composers, the Danish conductor gives the impression of rethinking iconic scores like the Sibelius Second instead of starting with a comfortable cache of received ideas”

Bachtrack.com 

“L’orchestre de Chambre de Paris was led by the excellent Danish conductor, Thomas Dausgaard; a conductor who one could also appreciate through his performances of Sibelius with other orchestras, but also in his recordings devoted to Carl Nielsen and Franz Berwald. Thomas Dausgaard’s direction of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was constantly inspiring and precise, and did not exclude the humorous traits contained in certain sequences. An excellent surprise for this musique de scène by Mendelssohn, rarely performed in its entirety, which literally put the large audience in its pocket and conquered the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.”

ON Magazine.fr 

“Honors among recent, very successful Schubert releases must be Thomas Dausgaard and his Swedish Chamber Orchestra … They have the best sound of the lot and perhaps the most deft hand at these works, too: Wherever slow, Dausgaard never drags; wherever fast, he never hurries. Punch and zest, yes, but not outright violence. The drum-roll opening of the Fourth shoots out like a salvo of (non-violent) machine gun fire, the darkness of the strings mourns passionately. The Fifth of Schubert, a personal favorite, can be a sunny masterpiece. Günter Wand in his last recording delivered something near genial perfection (NDRSO, RCA), but in his snappier way, Dausgaard rather matches him. That’s reason enough to declare this disc one of the finds of the year.”

Forbes.com 

“Dausgaard brought out the inherently melodic quality of Nielsen’s work [Symphony No. 2, “The Four Temperaments”] and allowed each section of the orchestra to form a fascinating dialogue, one punctuated by dramatic percussive breaks. The Danish conductor skillfully integrated harmonic elements with the piece’s more rocky aspects: booming percussion, weepy violins, dissonant and clear melodic lines. Drama and pathos co-existed with humor and joy, with a keen sense of freedom rising from the ashes of despair. By the end of the piece, indeed the entire performance, one wanted to stand up and cheer – and many, rightly, did.”

Bachtrack 

“To understand the Fourth [Nielsen, Symphony No. 4, “Inextinguishable”] is to hear a mammoth snake sliding across the floor with an elemental motion as basic as the act of swallowing. It menaces upward but doesn’t coalesce into a serene whole like Nielsen’s Scandinavian brother, Sibelius. Instead, the individual voices come alive inside the orchestra. It’s heavy stuff and Dausgaard clearly understands it like no other. ”

Michael Vincent 

“The main item was the Symphony No. 4 “Inextinguishable,” which Dausgaard led from memory, a feat that itself almost merits the nickname “unbelievable” … An athletic if quirky figure on the podium, Dausgaard lent definition to all the parts, including the whispered passages of the Poco allegretto (Nielsen being a master of understatement as well as overstatement). ”

Arthur Kaptainis 

“With Thomas Dausgaard as the conductor of the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester, we have got it all. Action-packed and intense music, the constant change between storm and quiet, and the unimpeded move towards absolute disaster. Beautifully played! ”

Bo Maimburg, Ugeavisen.dk 

“Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard drew some searing playing from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the Pickaquoy Centre Arena. It’s a sports hall the rest of the year, and its acoustic, although good, favours brass and percussion over strings – but Dausgaard made great play of that slight imbalance in an enormously powerful Tchaikovsky “Pathétique” Symphony that seemed to scream of its own anguish. There was something elemental about the way he drew skeins of melody from the orchestra with his broad gestures, yet he managed to make the second movement’s off-kilter waltz light and breezy, and the scherzo’s ironically triumphant march blazed with energy. It was as if he was bringing the music freshly to life, taking nothing as read, and the orchestra responded with passionate conviction.”

David Kettle, The Scotsman 

“Dausgaard drew a spectrum of colors from the orchestra, including a grainy French sound in the Ravel, an alluring lightness in Wagner and broody suppressed passion in Sibelius. In Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, he used that color palette to great effect, particularly in the final movement, where multiple musical ideas tussle for the upper hand before uniting for a triumphant conclusion.”

New York Times 

“The Toronto Symphony Orchestra chose to put its fate into the hands of Gustav Mahler and Thomas Dausgaard on Wednesday night with spectacular results.”

The Toronto Star 

“Dausgaard’s forces weaved through with authority and luminous beauty. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

The Times 

“[Thomas Dausgaard] has a wonderful sense of programming, combining the familiar and unfamiliar in thoughtful ways with a mind to always give us a sense of adventure.”

Concerto Net 

“With the adventure under way, every idea is inspired but many are oddly placed; Dausgaard fused them into a fluent, unpredictable adventure [Sibelius, Symphony No. 1] … There’s much about Dausgaard’s way that flashes past, but you know when you’ve got to the essence of Sibelius’s dark soul. ”

The Arts Desk 

“After the intermission, la Maîtrise de Paris appeared on-stage to perform Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the orchestra; a famous piece, undeniably and freshly interpreted by the choir of girls and the Orchestra under Dausgaard’s very sharp baton … Once again, l’Orchestre de Chambre de Paris delighted the audience with a concert of quality, freshness, and an intimate je ne sais quoi, in a rich and interesting programme where the beauty remained the protagonist. Exciting.”

ClassiqueNews.com 

“After the break, one heard an orchestra that was really hungry for Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. From the beginning it was electric – the crisp pianisssimi from the high strings, the vast thrusts of the brass, the bright colours of the woodwinds, the incoming waves as a remote song from the cellos: Dausgaard used his theatrical sign language with such potential for reproduction, the lighting fast alternation between blocky monumentality and its flowing resolution, and the voltage across the interfaces boring to even greater depths.”

Neue Luzerner Zeitung 

“If a prize were awarded for the year’s hottest programming, it would have to be assigned to Saturday evening’s big DR-transmitted concert in the cathedral with Thomas Dausgaard leading the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester.”

Weekendavisen.dk 

“… a cathedral’s acoustics are rarely optimal for great orchestral music, but heard from my protruding position in space, Dausgaard certainly managed to safely balance both Langgaard and Strauss’s bulging swelling sound images. Eva Johansson appeared as Salome and continued to both sound and look like a teenager from hell who sacrifices everything and everyone, even just momentarily, to experience genuine passion; and equally excellent was Stig Fogh Andersen as the lecherous stepfather Herod who, with increasing desperation, must see anything but his formal authority slipping out of his reach into the grasp of this feminine Antichrist.”

Weekendavisen.dk