David Robertson

Biography by

Among his accomplishments, conductor Robertson has had a long relationship with the Saint Louis Symphony and with the music of John Adams.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

David Robertson rose to major prominence in the 21st century among American conductors in his roles as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and as a frequent guest conductor of the major orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. He has also led various European orchestras, including the Lyon National Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. While Robertson's repertory is rich in American works by such composers as Ives, Copland, Gershwin, Carter, Reich, and Adams, it also encompasses a range of other music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Bartók, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Kalinnikov, and others. Robertson has also conducted opera, making appearances at the Met in 1996 (Janácek's Makropulos Affair) and 2008 (Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio). Robertson has made a number of recordings over the years, and for a broad range of labels that includes DG, EMI, Harmonia Mundi, Naïve, Naxos, Nonesuch, Philips, Sony, and Virgin Classics.

David Robertson was born in Malibu, CA, on July 19, 1959. In his youth he studied French horn and violin, and first showed an interest in conducting at age twelve. At the Royal Academy of Music he initially studied horn and composition, and later took up conducting.

Following graduation Robertson freelanced as a conductor and appeared internationally as a speaker on music topics for the U.S. Information Agency. Robertson's first important conducting post came in 1985 as the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra's resident conductor. He left the position in 1987, and from 1992-2000 served as music director of the Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris. During his Paris years Robertson kept active as a freelance conductor in Europe, leading such ensembles as the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Orchestre de Paris, with whom he made his first major recording, the Silvestrov Symphony No. 5 and Postludium, for Sony (1996).

2005 was a watershed year for Robertson: he began his tenure as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at that time and also began serving as principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (until 2012). In 2008 Robertson served as director of two California music festivals: the Concrete Frequency Festival, for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Ojai Music Festival. He also was named chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, beginning in January 2014. Among Robertson's recordings is the 2009 CD of John Adams' Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra on Nonesuch.