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 Gyorgy 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.
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 1996-2002 and currently 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, "Flight of the Concord", appeared in the Feb. 2, 2012 issue of The New Yorker. On Sunday, 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. An essay titled "My Favorite Mistake," written by Denk and 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 most recent 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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