In 1997, Denk made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall as the winner of the William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award from Juilliard. The following year, he received the Avery Fisher Career Grant and won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He has appeared with the Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, London, New World, St. Louis, and San Francisco Symphonies, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has focused in recent years on the music of Charles Ives and György Ligeti, in combination with more standard repertoire. He frequently appears with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and will be the artistic director of the Ojai Festival in 2014.Denk teaches at the Mannes College of Music.
Ligeti/Beethoven, Denk's debut album on Nonesuch, was released on May 15, 2012.
In 2004, Denk met and performed with violinist Joshua Bell at the Spoleto Festival and they began touring together in 2005.
Denk taught at the Indiana University School of Music from 1996 until 2002 and is on the faculty of the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He maintains a blog titled Think Denk and has written numerous liner notes and program notes. His essay on the failings of program notes appeared in Best Music Writing 2011, and his account of recording Ives' Concord Sonata appeared in the February 2, 2012, issue of The New Yorker. On April 15, 2012, Denk's review of The Great Animal Orchestra by Bernie Krause appeared on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. His essay titled "My Favorite Mistake", detailing his time as a chemistry and music double major at Oberlin College, was published in Newsweek on May 21, 2012. On November 15, 2012, Denk was published in The New Republic for the first time with a review of Reinventing Bach by Paul Elie. His essay "Every Good Boy Does Fine – A Life In Piano Lessons" appeared in the April 8, 2013, issue of The New Yorker. On September 25, 2013, Denk was named a MacArthur Fellow.
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