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David Robertson Biography

A consummate musician, masterful programmer and dynamic presence, David Robertson has established himself as one of today’s most sought-after American conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music-making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2012, Mr. Robertson launches his eighth season as Music Director of the 133-year-old St. Louis Symphony.In January 2014, David Robertson will assume the post of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony in Australia.

In September 2012, the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson embarked on a European tour, which included appearances at London’s BBC Proms, at the Berlin and Lucerne Festivals, and culminated at Paris’s Salle Pleyel. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff was the featured soloist for this tour, which marked the Symphony’s first European engagements since 1998 and first ever with music director David Robertson. In March 2013 Robertson and his orchestra return to California for their second tour of the season, which includes an intensive three day residency at the University of California-Davis and performance at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, with violinist James Ehnes as soloist. The orchestra will also perform at venues in Costa Mesa, Palm Desert and Santa Barbara, with St. Louis Symphony Principal Flute, Mark Sparks, as soloist.

In addition to his current position with the St. Louis Symphony, Mr. Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world. During the 2012-13 season he appears with prestigious U.S. orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony, as well as internationally with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. In past seasons he has appeared nationally with the Boston and Chicago Symphonies, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, and internationally with the Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies, among others.

With over 45 operas in his repertoire, Mr. Robertson, who returns to The Metropolitan Opera in October 2012 for Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opéra de Lyon, Bayerische Staatsoper, Théâtre du Châtelet, Hamburg State Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera.

A champion of young musicians, David Robertson has devoted time to working with students and young artists throughout his career. This season he joins John Adams to lead a Carnegie Hall Training Workshop entitled “The 21st-Century American Contemporary Ensemble.” In addition to creating and leading many outreach programs with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the Orchestre National de Lyon, Robertson also has worked with students at Carnegie Hall’s Academy, the Paris Conservatory, The Juilliard School, Tanglewood, National Orchestral Institute in Maryland and Aspen Music Festival.

Over the last two and a half decades, Robertson has held several postings abroad. Prior to his St. Louis Symphony and Sydney Symphony appointments, Mr. Robertson was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 2005-2012, and was the first artist ever to hold simultaneously the posts of Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon and Artistic Director of that city’s Auditorium, positions he maintained from 2000-2004. From 1992-2000 he was Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris (whose Honorary President Pierre Boulez was one of Mr. Robertson’s early supporters), and between 1985-1987 he served as Resident Conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

David Robertson has made numerous recordings for Sony Classical, Naive, EMI/Virgin Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Atlantic/Erato, Nuema, Adès, Valois and Naxos, in addition to his recent recording of the Doctor Atomic Symphony for Nonesuch. His download-only “Live From Powell Hall” releases recorded with the St. Louis Symphony include works by Adams, Scriabin and Szymanowski. Other recordings feature works by such composers as Bartók, Boulez, Carter, Dusapin, Dvořák, Ginastera, Lalo, Milhaud, Reich, Saint-Saëns and Silvestrov.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Mr. Robertson was educated at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. David Robertson received Columbia University’s 2006 Ditson Conductor’s Award, and he and the St. Louis Symphony are recipients of several major awards from ASCAP and the League of American Orchestras, including the 2008-09 Award for Programming of Contemporary Music, and the 2005-06 Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. Musical America named Mr. Robertson Conductor of the Year for 2000. In 1997, he received the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the premier prize of its kind, given to exceptionally gifted American conductors. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (2011), Westminster Choir College (2010), Webster University (2009) and Maryville University (2007). In 2010 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the most prestigious honorary societies in the United States, and that same year received the Excellence in the Arts award from the St. Louis Arts and Education Council. In 2011, David Robertson was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He and his wife, pianist Orli Shaham, are parents of twin boys. Mr. Robertson also has two older sons.