Dixon, Dean, 1915-1976

Alternative names
Birth 1915-10-01
Death 1976-03-11

Biographical notes:

Dean Dixon was a distinguished conductor of symphonic orchestras in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia, and guest conducted virtually all of the leading orchestras on four continents.

Born in Harlem, Dixon was graduated from the Juilliard Institute of Musical Art, Julliard Graduate School and Columbia University Teachers College (1936-1939). In 1942 he made his debut as guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, thereby becoming the first black person to conduct this major orchestra. Unable to secure a permanent position in the United States due to racial discrimination, Dixon went to Paris in 1949, at the invitation of the National Orchestra of Radio France. In 1953 he was appointed chief conductor of the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden, a position he held until 1960.

Between 1960 and 1974 Dixon served as the music director of the Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonie (Radio Symphony Orchestra) in Frankfurt, Germany. During this period he held two posts simultaneously, as he was also the principal conductor of Australia's Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1964 to 1967. Dixon ended his twenty-one year self-imposed exile in 1970 and visited the United States to guest conduct the New York Philharmonic as well as other orchestras throughout the United States. He toured widely during the 1960's and the 1970's as a guest conductor for major symphony and radio orchestras in Europe, the United States, the Far East and Latin America. Dean Dixon died in 1976 in Switzerland, world renowned yet virtually unknown in his own country.

From the description of Dean Dixon papers, 1939-1979 (bulk 1950-1976). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122517335


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Ark ID:


  • African Americans--Music
  • Music--Instruction and study
  • Symphony orchestras
  • Conductors (Music)
  • Conducting
  • Orchestra
  • African American conductors (music)


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  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)