Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor





Gustavo Dudamel, Biography

Gustavo Dudamel (Venezuela, born Jan 26, 1981) is a conductor and violinist. He is the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in Venezuela and of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is honorary conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Gothenburg, Sweden. Dudamel has won a number of conducting competitions and received many awards.

Childhood and Youth

Dudamel is the son of a trombonist and a voice teacher and was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He studied music from an early age, becoming involved with El Sistema, the famous Venezuelan musical education program. He took up the violin at age ten. He soon began to study composition and attended the Jacinto Lara Conservatory. Dudamel began to study conducting in 1995 at age 14, first with Rodolfo Saglimbeni, then later with José Antonio Abreu.

Adult Life and Career

At 18 years, Dudamel was appointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, the national youth orchestra of Venezuela, and toured several countries. He attended Charles Dutoit's master class in Buenos Aires in 2002, and worked as assistant for Simon Rattle in Berlin and Salzburg in 2003. Claudio Abbado, who is one of the most celebrated and respected conductors of the 20th century accepted his invitation to conduct the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in Venezuela. In 2013, Dudamel conducted the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra during the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Dudamel continues to retain his position with the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra.

Dudamel began his tenure as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is No. 8 of the World's Top 20 Orchestras, on September 28, 2009 with a rehearsal of Beethoven's 9th Symphony that included the Los Angeles Master Chorale and representatives of eight community-based choruses. Dudamel's contract with the Los Angeles Philharmonic includes the orchestra's 100th year anniversary and the 2021-2022 season.

An US television news feature on Dudamel was on 60 Minutes in February 2008, entitled "Gustavo the Great". Dudamel is also featured in the documentary film Tocar y Luchar (play and fight) which covers El Sistema.

Dudamel married Eloísa Maturén in 2006 in Caracas. Maturén, also a Venezuelan native, is a classically trained ballet dancer and a journalist. They have a son, Martín Dudamel Maturén, a U.S. citizen. In March 2015, the couple filed papers for divorce.

Gustavo Dudamel: “We say sometimes that classical music has a small audience, but it’s because people don’t have the chance to be closer to it.”

El Sistema

El Sistema was founded in 1975 by Venezuelan educator, musician and activist José Antonio Abreu. It is a program of free classical music education that promotes human opportunity and development for impoverished children. By 2015, El Sistema consisted of over 400 music centers and 700,000 young musicians. The program provides 4 hours of musical training and rehearsal per week day after school, as well as work on the weekends. According to Dudamel, music has not only saved his life but the lives of thousands of at risk children in Venezuela. Like food, like health care, like education, music has to be a right for every citizen.

Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra

An important product of El Sistema is the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra which is named after the Venezuelan national hero Simón Bolívar. The economist José Antonio Abreu established the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in 1975. Gustavo Dudamel has been the orchestra's artistic director since 1999. In the mid-1990s, Abreu formed the National Children's Youth Orchestra, and many young musicians graduated from it to the Simón Bolívar Orchestra which grew considerably in size. One extraordinary feature is that it may include up to 350 orchestra members. Meanwhile, the first generation of members was designated the Simón Bolívar A Orchestra while the younger, newer members, who had recently been brought in from the National Children's Orchestra, now constituted the Simón Bolívar B. The Simón Bolívar B is a touring orchestra and, 2007, it made its debut at the BBC Proms in London's Royal Albert Hall and later at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, receiving enthusiastic reviews.

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Photo: "Gustavo Dudamel" by Gustavo Dudamel - Was sent to me personally. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons