Thomas Dausgaard was born on July 4, 1963, in Copenhagen. He studied music there at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and later at the Royal College of Music, London. After holding minor posts and freelancing as a conductor in Scandinavia in his early career, Dausgaard received his first major appointment in 1997, that of principal conductor of the Örebro-based Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
In 2001 he debuted at the Proms in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and went on to conduct many orchestras in the U.K., including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra.
Also in 2001, Dausgaard added a second prestigious post when he accepted the appointment as principal guest conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He served in that capacity until 2004 when he was elevated to that ensemble's principal conductor, the first Dane to hold that position. He conducted both the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the DNSO at the 2010 Proms. Dausgaard's first major recording was made with the DNSO, the 1998 Bach to the Future, a Chandos disc containing the title work by Nørgård and various pieces by other composers. In June 2011, Dausgaard was named honorary conductor as he stepped down from his position with the DNSO.
Dausgaard has regularly toured the major cities of Europe with both his ensembles and has guest-conducted some of the leading American orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Among Dausgaard's recordings is the 2007 BIS CD of Dvorák's Symphonies No. 6 and No. 9, with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. He continues to promote Danish music both on stage and on record. In 2010, Dacapo released a DVD of Rued Langgaard's opera Antikrist, conducted by Dausgaard.