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Composer: Dessner, Bryce (b. 1976)

Find classical music concert, opera, ballet and dance listings | Dessner
Fact file
Year of birth1976
NationalityUnited States
Dessner, Bryce

You can read our October 2013 interview with Bryce Dessner here.

Bryce Dessner is a composer, guitarist, and curator based in New York City, best known as the guitarist for the acclaimed rock band The National. Their albums Alligator (2005), Boxer (2007) and High Violet (2010) were named among albums of the decade in publications throughout the world. Their most recent release, Trouble Will Find Me (2013), debuted at #3 on both the US Billboard Chart and the UK Albums Chart. Dessner has also received widespread acclaim as a composer and guitarist for the improvising new music quartet, Clogs. Bryce has performed and recorded with some of the world’s most creative musicians including songwriters Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Antony Hegarty and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo; composers Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and Michael Gordon; contemporary ensembles Kronos Quartet and eighth blackbird, and visual artist Matthew Ritchie.

As a composer, his recent commissions include “Murder Ballades” for eighth blackbird, a new work for So Percussion that will premiere at Carnegie Hall in November 2013, and an evening length collaboration with Brooklyn Youth Chorus celebrating the artistic endeavors of the Black Mountain College. In November 2013, Anti- will release the album Aheym featuring the first recordings of Bryce’s compositions, performed by Kronos Quartet. The album will include his compositions “Tenebre,” “Little Blue Something,” Tour Eiffel,” and “Aheym.”

2012 brought a collaborative song cycle with Sufjan Stevens and Nico Muhly called Planetarium, as well as new commissions for the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Other recent commissions include a Jerome Grant from the American Composer’s Forum and the Kitchen (NYC) for a concert of his music, a commission from Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna) to create a 40-minute spatial sound work for the Morning Line, and a string orchestra composition from the Amsterdam Sinfonietta entitled “St. Carolyn by the Sea.” Other important works include a commission by the Rosenbach Library in Philadelphia for “The Lincoln Shuffle” (a composition in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bi-centennial) and “The Long Count” (an origins story told in music and video, commissioned by BAM for the 2009 Next Wave Festival). Bryce also recently composed two string quartets, “Aheym” and “Tenebre,” for the Kronos Quartet.

Dessner is the founder and artistic director of the acclaimed MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, which will present its ninth season in 2014. He is also a co-founder and owner of the Brassland record label, which is home to a diverse group of artists including the experimental rock duo Buke and Gase, celebrated young composer Nico Muhly and cellist Erik Friedlander. In addition, Bryce and his brother Aaron produced an extensive AIDS charity compilation, Dark was the Night, for the Red Hot Organization. The ambitious record features exclusive new recordings and collaborations from a long list of artists including David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Jones, Cat Power, Grizzly Bear, My Morning Jacket and Spoon. Dark was the Night has raised over 2 million dollars for AIDS charities as of January 2012. Dessner is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Music. He currently serves on the board of The Kitchen in New York City and is a composer-in-residence at Muziekgebouw Eindhoven.