The New York Times (On David Robertson with the New York Philharmonic)
“The program ended with a strikingly fresh account of Sibelius’s popular Second Symphony. Mr. Robertson drew out the music’s misty colorings and hints of Finnish folk song, while emphasizing the visionary elements of this 1902 score, especially its structural daring, full of startling disruptions to the music’s flow.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (On Robertson’s 13 years as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra)
A BRILLIANT POLYMATH
“Robertson is a brilliant polymath who can casually toss a connecting reference to a painting or a work of literature into a musical discussion. He’s got a great ear for talent, a gift for gab, a well-tuned sense of humor and a friendly way with audiences… Under Robertson’s leadership, the St. Louisans have been in the forefront of American orchestras.”
The Australian (On the World Premiere of Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto, and Brahms Symphony No. 4, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra)
FLAIR and PRECISION
“Conductor David Robertson and the orchestra realized Dean’s evocative accompaniments with flair and precision, smoothly shifting between foreground and background… He and the orchestra tore straight into the finale from the scherzo, and the impassioned urgency was almost overwhelming.”
The Wall Street Journal (On Così fan tutte, at The Metropolitan Opera)
“David Robertson’s conducting was buoyant (as in the clipped phrases of the chorus “Bella vita militar!”) and hauntingly transparent when necessary…”
The New Yorker (On Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars…)
FOCUS and FIRE
“David Robertson, the St. Louis’s music director, shaped ‘Canyons’ with a sure hand. He quelled any suspicion that the work is indulgent or rambling; at the same time, he respected Messiaen’s meditativeness, his silences. The orchestra responded with playing of focus and fire.”
The New York Times
TRANSPARENT and RIVETING
“That David Robertson conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night in the most transparent and riveting account of Sibelius’s elusive Fifth Symphony in memory would have been momentous enough…. As they applauded the boss after the Gruber piece, the musicians seemed impressed with Mr. Robertson’s daring and versatility. How many conductors could gleefully sing the crazed words ‘Frankenstein is dancing with the test-tube lady’ and then 24 hours later lead a serenely confident account of Wagner’s most spiritual music?”
David Robertson – conductor, artist, thinker, and American musical visionary – occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene. A highly sought-after podium figure in the worlds of opera, orchestral music, and new music, Robertson is celebrated worldwide as a champion of contemporary composers, an ingenious and adventurous programmer, and a masterful communicator whose passionate advocacy for the art form is widely recognized. A consummate and deeply collaborative musician, Robertson is hailed for his intensely committed music making.
Following a Fall 2018 tour of European musical capitals with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Robertson kicked off his 2019 valedictory season as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director with the Orchestra. Throughout the year, he navigates oceans of music from Australian composers to Australian premieres, including Christopher Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto, the presence of American musical compatriots Wynton Marsalis and John Adams, concert performances of Britten’s Peter Grimes, and show-stoppers, including Andre Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. As always, musical friends from around the world will join in – Australian oboist Diana Doherty, Lang Lang, Susan Graham, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and a wealth of others. Robertson will continue to conduct the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in future seasons as the city undertakes a major renovation of its beloved Sydney Opera House.
In the 2018-19 season, Robertson continued his rich collaboration with the New York Philharmonic, as part of Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s first festival for the Orchestra, The Art of Andriessen. He ventured north to conduct the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and in the US, he conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the Juilliard Orchestra, where he serves as Director of Conducting Studies, Distinguished Visiting Faculty. In April 2019, Robertson returned to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam to conduct the collaborative music-theater staging of Death In Venice, directed by Ivo van Hove for his Internationaal Theater Group, with original music by Nico Muhly. In Europe this season, Robertson has also conducted the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich, and Cadaques Orchestra in Spain.
In September 2019, building upon his longstanding relationship with The Metropolitan Opera, Robertson conducts the Met’s 2019-20 season opening production of The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, directed by James Robinson. In Spring 2018, he conducted the premiere of Phelim McDermott’s celebrated production of Così fan tutte, set in 1950s Coney Island. Since his Met Opera debut in 1996, with The Makropulos Case, he has conducted a breathtaking range of Met projects, including the Met premiere of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer (2014); the 2016 revival of Janáček’s Jenůfa, then its first Met performances in nearly a decade; the premiere production of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (2013); and many favorites, from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro to Britten’s Billy Budd. Robertson has frequent projects at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including La Scala, Théâtre du Châtelet, Bayerische Staatsoper (orchestra), the San Francisco Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera.
In 2018, David Robertson completed his transformative 13-year tenure as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he solidified the orchestra’s status as one of the nation’s most enduring and innovative. For the SLSO, he established fruitful relationships with a wide spectrum of artists, and garnered a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for the Nonesuch release of John Adams’ City Noir.
Robertson has served in artistic leadership positions at musical institutions including the Orchestre National de Lyon, and, as a protégé of Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble InterContemporain, which he led on its first North American tour. At the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he served as Principal Guest Conductor. Robertson has served as a Perspectives Artist at Carnegie Hall, where he has conducted, among others, The Met Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He appears regularly in Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and at the Berlin Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms, and the Musica Viva Festival in Munich.
Robertson is the recipient of numerous musical and artistic awards, and in 2010 was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France. He is devoted to supporting young musicians and has worked with students at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, Lucerne, at the Paris Conservatoire, the Juilliard School, Music Academy of the West, and the National Orchestra Institute. In 2014, he led the Coast to Coast tour of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Robertson was educated at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. He is married to pianist Orli Shaham, and lives in New York.