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2010-2011 Stoeger Prize awarded to Brett Dean

The Chamber Music Society’s 2010-2011 Elise L. Stoeger Prize has been awarded to Australian composer Brett Dean. The Stoeger Prize is a $25,000 cash award, and the largest prize devoted to chamber music composition. It is given every two years in recognition of significant contributions to the field. Audio samples of Mr. Dean’s work can be heard here

CMS Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han commented on the announcement:

We could not be happier that our eminent panel of judges has selected Brett Dean as the 2010-2011 recipient of the Elise L. Stoeger Prize.  We have long been admirers of his work, and we expect this honor will offer him further inspiration to add to his already-impressive and important catalogue of chamber music. He joins the award’s distinguished list of recipients who have helped further our art, and we offer him our heartfelt congratulations.  

Born in Brisbane in 1961, Brett Dean is active as a composer, violist, and conductor. 

Following studies in Australia, he became a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as a viola player. In 1988 he began composing, initially as an arranger, and worked in improvisation for radio and film projects in Australia. Dean became established as a composer in his own right through worldwide performances of the ballet One of a Kind (Nederlands Dans Theater, choreographer Jiri Kylian) and by the clarinet concerto Ariel’s Music, which won an award from the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. Leading interpreters of Dean’s music include Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, Simone Young, Frank Peter Zimmermann and Daniel Harding. In addition to composing, Dean continues to perform, and has played his own Viola Concerto with international orchestras, while also enjoying increasing success as a conductor on the international circuit.  

Among Dean’s recent chamber music compositions is the 2010 string Quintet Epitaphs, premiered at the Cheltenham Festival and since performed at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, Cologne Philharmonie, Melbourne Recital Centre, and London’s Wigmore Hall, among other international venues. Other recent first performances include a Violin Sonata, written for Midori, and a Sextet which received its world premiere at the 2011 City of London Festival by the Nash Ensemble.

Brett Dean’s music has been recorded for BIS and ABC Classics, the most recent release being a collection of his works on BIS, including Water Music, Carlo, and the Pastoral Symphony, performed by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under the batons of Dean and HK Gruber. His Viola Concerto has also been recently released on BIS with the Sydney Symphony, with Dean reviewed as “a formidable and musical player as well as an impressive composer…” (The Guardian).


The Elise L. Stoeger Prize was established in 1987 with a bequest from Milan Stoeger, a long-time subscriber to the Chamber Music Society, in memory of his wife, Elise. Winners are chosen from the nominations of leading musicians, composers, educators, managers, and presenters from around the country. Final selection is made by a rotating anonymous panel of professionals and CMS Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han.  

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