Lee Bracegirdle began his early musical training in Philadelphia, where he studied keyboard and various wind instruments, choosing the French Horn at age 14. He began his tertiary musical studies with Joseph DeAngelis at the Philadelphia Musical Academy, then with James Chambers at the Juilliard School in New York, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Whilst in New York he also studied privately with John Cerminaro and Carmine Caruso, and was a member of the Juilliard Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, which performed under the directorship of Pierre Boulez, Dennis Russell Davies, and Richard Dufallo..
During his studies he embarked on a multi-faceted free-lance career which included performances as principal horn with the New York City Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonia, and recordings with many prominent jazz musicians, including Clark Terry, Ornette Coleman, Stanley Clark and Teo Macera. In 1976 he performed as principal French Horn in the world premiere of Dave Brubeck's composition The Gates of Justice under the direction of Mr. Brubeck. During summer holidays he performed on tours throughout the USA with Philadelphia-based soul and rock bands.
From 1976-1977 he was Co-Principal Horn with the Orquesta Filarmónica de la Unam (México) and Principal Horn with the Chamber Orchestra of México City. In 1977 he moved to Germany, where he performed as 1st horn with the International Youth Festival Orchestra in Bayreuth. In the same year he was appointed Solo-Horn with the Hof Symphony Orchestra in Bavaria, where he subsequently co-founded Germany’s premier brass quintet, Rekkenze Brass.
In 1980 he joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as Associate Principal Horn. He has made numerous recordings for the ABC as a soloist, chamber musician and principal horn. He has edited horn studies for the I.M.C. in New York, and published his own original horn studies and chamber music through 3-C Musikverlag in Germany. He has given master classes at Juilliard (New York), the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia), the Mozarteum (Salzburg), and the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana). In 2000 he toured with Barbra Streisand as Principal Horn of the Australian International Orchestra.
From 1990-1992 he studied conducting with Michael Gielen at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and took part in master classes with Sergiu Celibidache in Mainz. He subsequently received further conducting tutelage in Sydney with Sir Charles Mackerras, Carlo Felice Cillario, Vernon Handley, and Eduardo Mata. He made his conducting debut in 1990 with the Orchestra of the Mozarteum. In 1991 he was awarded the position of Solo-Repetitor and Assistant Conductor at the opera house of the city of Plauen, Germany. He returned to his post with the S.S.O. in 1992.
Since 1996 he has been Musical Director of the Australian Chamber Ballet, where he is also Composer-in-Residence. In addition to conducting arrangements of ballet repertoire for this ensemble, his original scores include the ballets Eat Pianist and Prometheus and Pandora.
In 1998 he was awarded First Prize in the Zoltan Kodaly International Composers’ Competition for his first orchestral work, Divertimento for Orchestra. This award earned him an honorary diploma from the Kodaly Academy in Chicago. In 2003 he was Artist-in-Residence composer at Bundanon, the South Coast property of the renowned Australian painter, Arthur Boyd.
Mr. Bracegirdle’s compositions that have been premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra are Variations for Orchestra (2002), Ammerseelieder (2005), and Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra (2008). In June 2007 the American Wind Symphony premiered his Threnos for Horn and Wind Orchestra. These works are published by C.F. Peters.
Lee has been invited by the Brahms Society in Germany to be composer-in-residence at Brahms' historic summer house in Baden-Baden during the year 2012.