A world-leading figure in the revival of classical improvisation and its applications in Western art-music performance, David Dolan has developed a teaching and practice method which is now used and referred to in many institutions worldwide. In 2005, David founded the Centre for Creative Performance & Classical Improvisation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, and is Professor of classical improvisation at the School, teaching improvisation’s various applications to solo and ensemble performance. Following an invitation by Yehudi Menuhin, David also taught at the Menuhin School since 1990.
David’s interest in the revival of the art of classical improvisation has been an important part of his international career as a concert pianist. In his solo and chamber music performances worldwide, David incorporates extemporisation into the repeats, eingangs and cadenzas of relevant concert repertoire, as well as improvising preludes, interludes, fantasias and variations on themes provided by the audience.
Yehudi Menuhin’s response to David Dolan’s CD When Interpretation and Improvisation Get Together was: “David Dolan is giving new life to classical music.”
In addition to his work at Guildhall School, David’s pioneering work in teaching improvisation has been disseminated through masterclasses, workshops and residencies at music institutions around the world. A Senior Fellow of the British Advanced Higher Education Academy, he is currently a visiting professor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and collaborates regularly with the Vienna University of the Performing Arts (MDW). Between 2011 and 2016 David created and ran a programme of classical improvisation applied to performance at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in Melbourne.
David’s Masterclasses & workshops have taken place at the Juilliard School, the Royal College of Music in London, the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow, the Chopin University in Warsaw, the New England Conservatory, the Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv Music Academies, the Verbier Festival, the European Chamber Music Academy (ECMA), the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Auckland and Waikato Universities in New Zealand, the Norwegian Music Academy in Oslo, The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore and the Paris and Geneva Conservatories.
Born in Israel, David studied piano with Prof. Sonia Valin (Jerusalem Academy of Music), Leon Fleisher (Peabody Conservatory) and Claude Frank, and composition and improvisation with Prof. Haim Alexander.
His PhD examined parallels between spontaneous emotional expression in the prosodic level of speech and musical improvisation. In his more recent research David is collaborating with his Guildhall colleague the music psychologist Professor John Sloboda, the Neuroscience and Complex Data Analysis teams of Imperial College led by Professor Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Together, they have studied the impact of an improvisational approach to music-making on performers and audiences and the quality of communication between them.