Biography

Gustavo Dudamel is defined by his untiring advocacy of access to music for all.  As a symphonic and operatic conductor, his music making on four continents continues to inspire audiences of all ages. Currently serving as Music Director of both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, the impact of his musical leadership is felt internationally. While his commitment to these posts accounts for the major portion of his yearly schedule, Dudamel also guest conducts with some of the world’s greatest musical institutions. This season he returns to the Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin Staatskapelle, Gothenburg Symphony, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, and to the Vienna Philharmonic in Vienna and Salzburg as well as on tour with them through Europe and Asia.

Adding to his musical legacy, Dudamel makes his first foray into composing for film with the major feature The Liberator/Libertador (the life of Simón Bolívar), for which he wrote the score and recorded it with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The worldwide film release is October 2014, with the soundtrack release earlier that summer. Additionally, Suite from Libertador was premiered by the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2014.

Gustavo Dudamel is in his sixth season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where his contract has been extended through 2018-19, the orchestra’s 100th season. Under his leadership the Los Angeles Philharmonic has expanded its diversified outreach through many projects, most notably Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), influenced by Venezuela’s widely successful El Sistema. With YOLA and additional educational expansion in Los Angeles, Gustavo brings music to children in the underserved communities of Los Angeles, and also serves as an inspiration for similar efforts throughout the United States, as well as for programs in Sweden (Hammarkullen) and Scotland (Raploch).

At the Los Angeles Philharmonic where he spends extensive periods in both the fall and spring, it is not only the breadth of the audience reached, but also the depth of the programming performed under Gustavo Dudamel that is remarkable. Programs at the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2014-2015 continue to represent the best and the boldest, including eight world premieres and 10 commissions; Hollywood Bowl performances of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci; and a spring tour to China, Korea and Japan. 

Now in his 16th season as Music Director of the entire El Sistema project in Venezuela and ushering this institution into its 40th anniversary season, Dudamel continues to lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in his native Venezuela, as well as on tour around the globe. He begins 2015 with an eight-city European tour, and in summer 2015 brings the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra to La Scala performing La Bohčme for the World Expo, as well as several concerts in the famed Italian opera house. His work in Venezuela serves as the cornerstone of his work with young people, and he steadfastly commits some twenty five weeks of his annual schedule to his work with the El Sistema orchestras and children, both in Caracas and around the country.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2005, Grammy winner Gustavo Dudamel has numerous recordings on the label. In spring 2014, the monumental and highly celebrated work by John Adams, Gospel According to the Other Mary, commissioned and played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was released. As part of a major Mahler recording project over the past few years, DG has released his Mahler 9 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler 7 and Mahler 5 with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, as well as Dudamel: Mahler 8 - Symphony of a Thousand Live from Caracas(DVD + Blu-Ray), featuring the combined forces of the LA Phil and the Bolívars. In 2013 there was an international release of an all-Strauss disc with the Berlin Philharmonic (CD), and in 2012 an LP of the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 with the Vienna Philharmonic.

Many video/DVD releases capture the excitement of important live concerts in Gustavo Dudamel’s musical life with the LA Phil, Bolívars, Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics. In June 2011, a documentary, Let the Children Play, featuring Dudamel, was shown in over 500 Fathom movie theaters nationwide. Gustavo Dudamel has been featured three times on CBS’s 60 Minutes and appeared on a 2010 PBS special, Dudamel: Conducting a Life, with Tavis Smiley.  He appeared on Sesame Street with Elmo in February 2012.

Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most decorated conductors of his generation.  He received the 2014 Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School, was named Musical America’s 2013 Musician of the Year, one of the highest honors in the classical music industry, and was voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame. In October of 2011, he was named Gramophone Artist of the Year, and in May of the same year, was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in consideration of his “eminent merits in the musical art.” The previous year, he received the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. Dudamel was inducted into l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as a Chevalier in Paris in 2009, and received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in his hometown of Barquisimeto. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg in 2012. In 2008, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra was awarded Spain’s prestigious annual Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and, along with his mentor José Antonio Abreu, Dudamel was given the “Q Prize” from Harvard University for extraordinary service to children.

Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009, Gustavo Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He began violin lessons as a child with José Luis Jiménez and Francisco Díaz at the Jacinto Lara Conservatory. He continued his violin studies with Rubén Cova and José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin American Academy of Violin. His conducting studies began in 1996 with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and, that same year, he was given his first conducting position, Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, he was appointed Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and began conducting studies with the orchestra’s founder, Dr. Abreu; a few years later, in 2004, Dudamel was brought to international attention by winning the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition. He then went on to become Music Director of the Gothenburg Symphony (2007-2012), where he currently holds the title Honorary Conductor. His early musical and mentoring experiences molded his commitment to music as an engine for social change – a lifelong passion.

Access to music for all has been the cornerstone of Gustavo’s philosophy both professionally and philanthropically. He has now further expanded this commitment via The Gustavo Dudamel Foundation, the goal of which is to expand opportunities to experience music for as many children and communities as possible – the mission by which Gustavo Dudamel lives.

July 2014

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