Biography

“An excellent conductor” BBC Music Magazine

David Curtis is the founder, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Orchestra of the Swan, and the Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra. 

Under David’s leadership of over twenty years, Orchestra of the Swan has developed into one of the most successful chamber orchestras in the UK, with an annual programme of over 40 concerts, international touring and recording. He has toured with the orchestra to Mexico and China, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, and at the Istanbul International Music Festival with leading Turkish actress Tilbe Saran. 

David conducted the world premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova’s oratorio ‘Immortal Shakespeare’ live for BBC Radio 3 as part of the recent Shakespeare 400 celebrations, and also conducted for artists from the Royal Ballet in the BAFTA-nominated ‘Shakespeare Lives!’, for live broadcast on BBC 2 TV and cinema relay across the UK, Europe and USA.

David is an enthusiastic champion of new work and has commissioned and premiered more than 70 works by composers including Oscar Colomina i Bosch, Douglas Cuomo, Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joseph Duddell, Daron Hagen, Peter Lieuwen, David Matthews, Paul Patterson, Joe Phibbs, Julian Philips, Dobrinka Tabakova, Param Vir, Andrew Waggoner, Errollyn Wallen, Shu Wang and John Woolrich. For Icelandic Radio he conducted premieres by Snorri Sigfús Birgisson, Lars-Petter Hagen, Thuridur Jónsdottir and Marie Samuelsson in the Nordic Music Days Festival and gave the world premiere of a new work by Sampo Haapamäki with the Mikkeli City Orchestra. David was honoured by the Delius society in 2013 for his outstanding contribution to promoting the music of Delius.

David’s recordings are frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, USA and Canadian public radio, Bartok Radio (Hungary) and throughout Europe. His discography includes repertoire by Barber, Arnold Bax, Berlioz, Copland, Elgar, Finzi, Gershwin, Daren Hagen, John Ireland, Mahler, Mozart, Robert Saxton and Vaughan Williams for MSR Classics, Naxos, Signum Classics and Somm and the world première recording of the Robert Stark clarinet concertos with Dimitri Ashkenazy and the Hamburger Symphoniker. Signum records recently released his recording of the Shostakovich piano concertos with Peter Donohoe and his recording of the Mendelssohn D minor violin concerto with Tamsin Waley-Cohen was BBC Music Magazine’s recommended recording.

David studied at the Royal Academy of Music and prior to developing his conducting career, was viola player in the Coull String Quartet, one of the UK’s most highly regarded ensembles. With the Coull he toured Europe, the Far East, Australia, North and South America, working with leading musical figures including Sir William Walton, Sir Michael Tippett and Nicolas Maw and gave over 250 broadcasts for BBC Radio 3. He recorded over 25 CDs including the complete quartets by Mendelssohn and Schubert.

David continues to be in demand internationally, working in Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA. He has worked with orchestras such as the Academy of St Martin’s-in-the-Field, the Prague Chamber Orchestra and Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. 

In addition to his performing career, David has a busy schedule of teaching conducting, including at the Moores’ School of Music in Houston as well as working as a chamber music coach, competition judge and public speaker. 

Passionate about the power of music to enrich and transform people’s lives, both on and off the concert platform, he has commissioned three operas for special schools, developed a “relaxed” concert format for families with children who have autism, and pioneered programmes for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“fine work under the able leadership of David Curtis” Fanfare Magazine, USA

“a reassuringly calm yet always encouraging and cajoling presence” The Gramophone

“Curtis’s conducting, is close to Boult’s, if more intimate, and slightly more perceptive” The American Record Guide

“warmly sympathetic support from David Curtis” Classic Fm Magazine 5 *****