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Musical World

Steven Dann

  • Violist
  • Teacher


Steven Dann was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1953. His foremost teacher and mentor was the late Lorand Fenyves. Other influences include William Primrose, Robert Pikler and Bruno Giuranna and five summers spent studying the string quartet repertoire with Zoltan Szekely and members of the Hungarian String Quartet.
 Upon graduation from university he was named Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, a position he has subsequently held with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
He has also been a guest principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and, in both performance and recordings, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paavo Berglund and Pierre Boulez. 
 Steven Dann has collaborated as a soloist with such Maestri as Sir Andrew Davis, Rudolph Barshai, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir John Elliott Gardiner, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Since 1990 Mr. Dann has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Washington D.C. and was a founding member of the Axelrod String Quartet. 

Mr. Dann has recorded for Sony, Naxos, CBC Records, Marquis Classics, Centrediscs, RCA Red Seal and ATMA Classique. The Stereo Record Review described his 2006 recording of the viola works of Brahms (ATMA CLASSIQUE) as “without doubt, one of the most beautiful viola recordings I have ever heard”. Upcoming recording projects include a disc of French viola repertoire and one of contemporary viola works for ATMA Classique, and the continuation of a project with his trio, the Esterhazy Machine, which, in the next three years will result in a complete set of the baryton trios of Haydn on original instruments for the NAXOS label. Twenty-one CDs in all.

Recent performances include concerti by Peter Lieberson, Giya Kancheli, W. A. Mozart, Alexina Louie, Christos Hatzis (a world premiere) Mark-Anthony Turnage, Jonathan Harvey and Peter Oesterle (a world premiere). He has also formed a trio with Austrian violinist Ernst Kovacic and Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen dedicated to both performing the established masterpieces of that repertoire and to commissioning works from composers of today. 

Mr. Dann has himself commissioned and premiered many new works from such composers as Alexina Louie, Peter Lieberson, R. Murray Shafer, Frederick Schipitsky, Walter Buczyinski, Christos Hatzis and Michael Oesterle. 
As both a performer and teacher, Mr. Dann is a regular guest at many international festivals and arts schools. He teaches viola and chamber music at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and is the Coordinator of the chamber music programs at the Domaine Forget in Quebec and the National Arts Centre’s Summer Music Institute in Ottawa.
Mr. Dann plays a viola of Joseph Gagliano, circa 1780.