Dixon, Dean, 1915-1976

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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

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. The Charles Ives papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Tripp, Paul, 1911?-2002. Il était une fois un orchestre [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. Vernon Duke collection, 1918-1968. Library of Congress
referencedIn Dean Dixon collection, [ca. 1972-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
creatorOf Dixon, Dean, 1915-1976. Correspondence from Eugene Ormandy, 1974. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Dixon, Dean, 1915-1976. Dean Dixon papers, 1939-1979 (bulk 1950-1976). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Tripp, Paul, 1911?-2002. Il était une fois un orchestre [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn The Charles Ives Papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Library of Congress. Music Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith All-American Youth Orchestra. corporateBody
correspondedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith New York Philharmonic. corporateBody
associatedWith Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt. corporateBody
associatedWith Sydney Symphony Orchestra. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
African Americans--Music
Music--Instruction and study
Symphony orchestras
Conductors (Music)
African American conductors (music)


Birth 1915-10-01

Death 1976-03-11



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