Bryce Dessner on collaboration and the composition process

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 11:52

Bryce Dessner is perhaps best known to music fans the world over as guitarist for the Grammy Award-winning rock band The National. But his musical foundations lie in classical and concert; initially a flautist before switching to classical guitar in his teens, it wasn’t until his mid-twenties that he moved from recitals to gigs; joining the band established by his twin brother Aaron.

Recent years however have seen Bryce Dessner return to his roots, and he has fast built a reputation as a composer, with commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York City Ballet and many others. His latest work Concerto for Two Pianos received its world premiere here at Southbank Centre on Friday 13 April, performed by Katia and Marielle Labèque and London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ahead of this performance, Dessner sat down with the London Philharmonic to talk about how he finds time to write and compose alongside touring with The National, and how he approaches the writing process.

An Interview with Bryce Dessner – Part 1


Key to Dessner’s latest composition was the opportunity and experiences afforded by writing for his friends Katia and Marielle Labèque; two artists the composer describes as his ‘adopted family’ in Paris where he now lives. In the video below, Dessner talks how he works with and responds to feedback from the artists whilst producing his composition.


An Interview with Bryce Dessner – Part 2

Katia and Marielle Labèque are unbelievably experienced and knowledgeable, and also just intuitive about music
Bryce Dessner

Katia and Marielle Labèque and the London Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of the world premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Concerto for Two Pianos, in a concert also featuring Stravinsky and Rachmaninov has now passed.

However, there are hundreds of opportunities to enjoy classical music at Southbank Centre in Royal Festival Hall and the recently reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.

see our 2017/18 Classical Season

see our 2018/19 Classical Season