David Montgomery

Conductor, Choirmaster, Keyboard Artist


David Montgomery is an American orchestral conductor, choirmaster, harpsichordist, pianist, and musicologist. He studied in Paris with René Leibowitz and in the U.S. and Vienna with Paul Badura-Skoda. He became Leibowitz’s assistant in France and later studied the interpretation of contemporary music with Pierre Boulez in Los Angeles. After completing a PhD at UCLA in musicology and historical performance practice, he made his debut as harpsichordist in J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with the Santa Barbara Symphony and taught for several years at the University of California in that city.

In 1990 Montgomery joined the summer faculty of the Waterloo Festival at Princeton University as Director of the Baroque Ensemble. He worked in New York for Sony Tri-Star/Columbia Pictures as a conductor, and then in Europe for Sony Music Inc and Sony Classical GmbH. From Hamburg, Montgomery toured Europe as a pianist/harpsichordist and helped to revitalize the Jena Philharmonic in the former East Germany as the orchestra’s principal guest conductor. With the Philharmonic he made recordings for BMG’s Arte Nova label in Munich.

David Montgomery is an authority on Austro-German music of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.  His essays for the international recording industry have been translated into numerous languages and distributed throughout the world. He has lectured at Georgetown University, the College of William and Mary, University of Chicago, Harvard University, the Universities of Halle and Göttingen, and at the major campuses of the University of California. His first book, Franz Schubert’s Music in Performance (Pendragon, 2003/paperback 2010) is widely known in performance and scholarly circles.  His second book, Unfinished History (Brown Walker Press, 2017) challenges the traditional story of Franz Schubert’s B-minor Symphony with the first in-depth examination of its manuscript and related documents.  The book concludes with an essay on performing the work in the context of its own times.

Ostthüringer Zeitung, Jena, Germany
“Has a Beethoven overture ever sounded so exciting in Jena?  Not that one can remember.  The Leonore Overture No. 3 was presented as if chiseled in granite, with a seldom-heard clarity, thanks to David Montgomery’s sharply clean baton technique and an orchestra that simply outdid itself.
Concertgoers were introduced to a guest conductor who appeared as if he had led his musicians into battle a hundred times and left the field triumphant.  David Montgomery does not work with large gestures; where others of his profession practice shadowboxing, he leads his players with truly specific, rational and energy-saving movements.  Mostly he communicates with hands and fingertips, and any orchestra should feel confidence in his expressive metrical exactitude.”
Fanfare, New York, NY
“Two of the best releases in the Arte Nova series come from a pair of discs offering music of two leading American composers with David Montgomery conducting the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra. Indeed, Montgomery’s recording of music of Howard Hanson (74321 43306 2) can stand with the best performances in the catalog.  In Hanson’s ‘Romantic’ Symphony (No. 2), Montgomery shows a great feel for the American composer’s dark-textured lyricism in a spirited, energetic reading with a strong sense of romantic yearning.  Hanson’s Symphony No. 4, a requiem for his father, is even finer, a superb performance, rich in emotion, with the final Lux aeterna beautifully turned by Montgomery and the Jena musicians. These are compelling performances, with strikingly rich, full-bodied sound. Montgomery’s generous, 77-minute disc of popular theater works by Leonard Bernstein (74321 43321 1) is just as distinguished.  The German musicians manage to kick up plenty of energy in the ‘Cool’ fugue.  The suite from On the Waterfront is very well done, and the disc gains extra interest by including the complete Fancy Free ballet, given a driven, electric performance.  While Bernstein’s own recordings remain touchstones, these are exhilarating, surprisingly idiomatic performances, and well worth checking out.”
Schubert authority David Montgomery has done music lovers everywhere a huge service in reminding us just how much we still do not know about Schubert’s beloved “Unfinished” Symphony—exactly where it was written, when, for what purpose, and the strange circumstances of its preservation and eventual rediscovery. Only by embracing the mystery can we see clearly how posterity has disregarded so much that we can know: specifically, what Schubert actually wrote and thus what his evident expectations in performance were. Montgomery rejects the traditional view of the work as a gloom-filled essay in pre-Wagnerian grandiosity, describing the music as filled with intimacy, grace, color, and supple rhythmic vitality. By analyzing the work’s compositional and transmission history in minute detail, Montgomery not only asks us to take a fresh look at a piece that we thought we knew cold, he justifies our making the effort.
–David Hurwitz, Executive Editor, ClassicsToday.com
David Montgomery’s Unfinished History at long last opens up a portal to a new performance tradition. There is lavish detail here and literally everything you need to know about D759 [Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony]. It makes fascinating reading for the scholar as well as the performer.
–David Zinman, Music Director, L’Orchestre Français des Jeunes.


Performances  |  Recordings                https://www.youtube.com/user/davidmontpwso#g/u/videos

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