Thomas Dausgaard

Conductor Laureate, Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Honorary Conductor, Orchestra della Toscana / ORT
Honorary Conductor, Danish National Symphony Orchestra / DR


Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard is internationally acclaimed as an artist “of huge conviction and outrageously good musicianship” (Europadisc), renowned for his creativity and innovation in programming, an extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed recordings, and for “ataclysmic…life-affirming…sublime…” performances (The Times).

He is passionate about music’s engagement with society and the issues of our time, and its relevance and potential as a vital and innovative force in the life of current and future generations.

He recently completed his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (2016-2022). He also holds titles as Conductor Laureate of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (Chief Conductor 1997-2019), Honorary Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Principal Guest Conductor 2001-2004, Chief Conductor 2004–2011), and Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana. He was previously Principal Guest Conductor (2014-2019) and Music Director (2019-2022) of the Seattle Symphony. He has been awarded the Cross of Chivalry by the Queen of Denmark, and elected to the Royal Academy of Music in Sweden.

Select highlights of his 2022/23 season include hotly anticipated return concerts with the Tokyo Metropolitan and KBS symphonies; Brussels, Copenhagen, Dresden and Wrocław philharmonics; Lucerne Symphony Orchestra; Brucknerhaus Linz; Orchestre de Chambre de Paris; and Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro de RTVE.

Read more

Recent News

Bosch, Dausgaard, Fray & Pappano Win at the 2021 Opus Klassik Awards

Congratulations to conductors Marcus Bosch, Thomas Dausgaard and Sir Antonio Pappano and pianist David Fray for their victories at the 2021 Opus Klassik Awards. Germany’s most prestigious classical music recording honour, the Opus Klassik awards are presented by the...

Congratulations to Our 2021 Gramophone Award Shortlist Artists

The 2021 Gramophone Awards Shortlist is announced, and IMG Artists congratulates our nominees for their extraordinary performances and recordings. This year, the awards will be announced in an online ceremony presented by pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason and Gramophone...


“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

“… cataclysmic … life-affirming … sublime … he offered a different view of Ravel, full of texture, atmosphere and rhythmic discipline. With the earthy heartbeat throb of the double basses, the wing-whirring flute and the woozy string glissandos, the opening felt like a moth emerging from its cocoon only to flutter too close to the flame at the piece’s climax and meet its demise … And this Nielsen burst forth with huge energy, the strings full of heart and guts. The colourful, giddying “cosmic waltz”, as the conductor Osmo Vanska once described it, gave way to an andante that felt rooted in ancient landscape, two wordless soloists (Elizabeth Watts and Benjamin Appl) singing from high above. And in the finale the musical motifs grew like cells replicating, generating what felt like life itself.”

The Times  August 2022

“A great Dane bids Scotland farewell with magnificent BBC SSO performances of Mozart and Nielsen … an incredible performance of world-class intensity … life-enhancing … This conductor over six seasons (two of which were afflicted by the worldwide pandemic) has been at the heart of many highlights in this orchestra’s music-making … one hopes that the maestro will return soon, for his presence in Glasgow will be greatly missed. For his successor, he will be leaving an ensemble of outstanding virtuosity and flexibility in diverse repertoire.”

Seen & Heard International  May 2022

“Epic Nielsen a fitting farewell for Thomas Dausgaard at the BBC Scottish SO … Watching Dausgaard vary from minimal to expansive gestures, he was clearly enjoying the work, bringing it to an end in a rousing finale … Time almost stood still … the orchestra will clearly miss him.”

Bachtrack  May 2022

“Thomas Dausgaard inspires a terrific evening of Bartók and Nielsen … There was a particularly powerful momentum in [his] conducting – it was clear that he knows this music inside out and produced a superbly strong performance bringing out all the colours in the score … Dausgaard’s dynamic conducting throughout was emphasised by his clear and expressive gestures … a superb concert …”

Seen & Heard International  May 2022

“… the commonality of purpose was so direct, so intense, so instinctive, that the music […] poured out like a multiple explosion of mirth, melancholy, even a hint of madness … Dausgaard gleaned an abundance of riches from the SSO, whether through the pungency of the strings, the often exotic interplay of the wind, the punchiness of the brass, even the musical bling emanating from Bartok’s duetting celesta. It was a sweeping performance …”

The Scotsman  May 2022

“… goodness me it is dramatic … a flowing pulse which actually extends Brahms’ long lyrical lines … The cumulative energy and propulsive drive […] is utterly compelling … infectiously impressive … transcendingly moving … this is a set to make a listener fall in love with this wonderful music all over again.”
Musicweb International  Apr 2022

” … Thomas Dausgaard, the Seattle Symphony’s Danish music director, is back on the Benaroya Hall podium — much to the jubilation of the pumped-up, fully masked concertgoers and orchestra … The long-awaited concert delivered a powerful musical statement … a standing ovation … eager energy and brilliance …”
The Seattle Times  Nov 2021

“There never seems to be a dull moment in a Thomas Dausgaard recording … as far as I can find in the catalogue, this is the only recording currently available of the 1873 version in hi-res or multi-channel sound. When we put that together with the sheer excellence of the overall recording in every facet, I would have to say that Bruckner fans should add this recording to their library as quickly as possible.”

MusicWeb International  Aug 2021

“Dausgaard’s very personal conducting provides one of the most lush, ornate, contrastful, flourishing, detailed, colourful, and dancing interpretations I know. Alongside this, however, come touchingly poetic slow movements. All in all, a grandiose result has been achieved in this production, a feast for the ear of a kind one all too rarely gets to hear, a subtly and differently realized performance whose effect one cannot escape, not least because Bach has more to say here than I ever got to hear. Dausgaard’s conducting is phenomenal.”

Pizzicato Apr 13th 2021

“Thomas Dausgaard’s interpretation with the Seattle Symphony is one of the best you could wish for … plainly, Seattle and Dausgaard are setting out to become a new power centre in American musical life …”

Information Apr 13th 2021

“… conveyed with ferocious commitment and a varied palette of well-defined colours … With Dausgaard and Kuusisto as our guides, it was a treat to dive further into [Sibelius’s] depths.”

The Arts Desk Aug 5th 2019

Exhilarating performances …”

The Independent  Aug 4th 2019

“… radiant … enthralling … Thrilling.”  

The Times Jul 28th 2019

“… enthusiastic, scrupulously prepared and rhythmically spry … its communicative zeal, thrusting energy and keen dramatic instinct effortlessly succeeded …”

Gramophone MagazineJul 2019

“… thrilling and intense … one not to miss.”

The Guardian Jun 27th 2019

“Thomas Dausgaard should be a Philharmonic regular … He led an exceptionally urgent and insightful account of Schumann’s Second Symphony … I hope we’ll hear more of him in New York … I was engrossed throughout …”

The New York Times Feb 15th 2019

“[Dausgaard] led a vigorous performance that gloried in resilient brass and sonorous strings.  He shaped lyrical material exquisitely while maintaining a spirited pace, retaining inner tension, even during softer passages …. Dausgaard shaped phrases brilliantly… In Schumann’s Second Symphony, Dausgaard was simply masterful. He elicited a deeply etched, vividly drawn, and impressively detailed reading the like of which is rarely offered these days, the Philharmonic players adhering to his every direction without the least hesitation.”

Classical Source Feb 15th 2019

“… 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… 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.”


“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” 

“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.”


“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.” 

“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.”


“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, 

“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.” 

“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.” 

“… 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.”