José Antonio Abreu

José Antonio Abreu Anselmi . Venezuelan musician, economist, politician, activist and educator. He founded the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and the National System of Youth, Children and Pre-Children Symphony Orchestras of Venezuela . He has the titles of Performing Professor, Master Composer and Orchestral Director obtained at the José Ángel Lamas School of Music in Caracas . In addition to being a composer, pianist, harpsichord player and organist, he is a Summa Cum Laude Economist and has received Honorary Doctorates in Economics , Music , Education and Medicine.from various universities worldwide. He is considered one of the cultural and musical icons of Venezuela .


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Musical Training
    • 2 Trajectory
    • 3 Awards and recognitions
  • 2 Death
  • 3 References
  • 4 Sources

Biographical synthesis

He born on 7 of maypole in 1939 , hails from Valera , Trujillo state in Venezuela . He is the eldest of six brothers in a family with musical lineage and from a very young age he showed his musical and artistic sensitivity.

He died on Saturday 24 of March of 2018 in Caracas at 79 and the Venezuelan government decreed three days of national mourning in homanaje to the teacher.

Musical formation

At the age of nine he began his music studies with the pianist Doralisa de Medina, in Barquisimeto.

In 1957 he traveled to Caracas where he became a disciple of great teachers such as Vicente Emilio Sojo, with whom he studied composition; Moisés Moleiro, piano teacher, and Evencio Castellanos, from whom he learned organ and harpsichord.

In 1964, Maestro Abreu obtained the title of Executing Professor and Master Composer, Orchestral Conductor and Harpsichordist, Organist and Pianist at the José Ángel Lamas Superior School of Music in Caracas.


His intellectual and professional resume includes, in addition to the titles obtained in terms of musical training, a diverse and highly recognized career in other fields. Thanks to his love and dedication to study and his desire to be an integral professional, simultaneously with his dedication to music , he obtained the title of Economist at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and the Ph.D. in Petroleum Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. These academic achievements allowed him to distinguish himself as a university professor, planner and economic advisor, and to serve as Director of Planning for Cordiplan and Advisor to the National Council of Economy, in addition to having been Minister of State for Culture, President of the National Council of Culture and Deputy to the National Congress of the Republic.

He was a soloist of the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra since 1959 and obtained the National Composition Prize in 1966 with the Veni Mulier Symphony Cantata from Samaria .

José Antonio Abreu.

In 1975 he decided to unite teaching, management and art; founding a national network so that young people without resources could learn music, the “State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela”, a project that would become an unprecedented social phenomenon in Latin America . The Systemfrom maestro Abreu who sought “to systematize the collective and individual instruction and practice of music, through symphony orchestras and choirs, as instruments of social organization and humanistic development” .and confesses that it was his iron vocation of service to the country, his restlessness and rebellion against the phenomena of social imbalance which prompted him, at 35 years of age, to conceive a project in which he could synthesize and channel in an ingenious and nationalistic way the experience and knowledge achieved in the economic field, managerial, pedagogical and, of course, musical, which was forged practically from his adolescence.In this project, universally recognized artists grew and were trained, such as the current musical director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and musical and artistic director of theLos Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel , as well as other youth stars of the musical direction, such as Christian Vásquez, Diego Matheus, Josua Dos Santos and Edicson Ruiz, an institution to which he has dedicated almost all his life.

Between 1989 and 1994 he had occupied, with notable success, the portfolio of Minister of Culture during the second government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and the short interim of Ramón José Velásquez .

Awards and honours

Abreu is one of the most important and most important musicians of the Venezuelan musical culture, he has been acclaimed worldwide for the scope of his management in cultural promotion, being recognized and awarded on many occasions. They are between them:

  • In 1994 hewas awarded by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the International Music Prize,
  • In 1998 hereceived the title of honor “Ambassador for Music and Peace” to create a global network of children’s and youth orchestras and choirs,
  • In 2001 hewas awarded the “Well-Earned Sustenance Award” for having made possible the creation of the National Youth Symphonic Orchestra in Venezuela,
  • In 2001 hereceived the “International Prize for Exemplary Life”, considered as the Nobel Peace Prize from the Swedish foundation “Right Livelihood Foundation”,
  • Also in 2001 hewas honored with the Order of the Rising Sun granted by the Emperor of Japan;
  • In 2008 hewas awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts ,
  • In 2009 hereceived the TED Award
  • In 2009with the Polar Music Prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, along with other recognitions.
  • In 2009 he received the Honorary Award from the Board of Directors at the Latin Grammy Awards,
  • In 2010 hereceived the Title of Honor of Knight of Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and
  • Also in 2010 he received the Erasmus Prize, awarded by the Erasmus Prize Foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


He died 24 of March of 2018 in Caracas close to meeting the 79 – year-old received the posthumous tribute of the authorities, artistic community and the Venezuelan people, during the wake ceremony held at the Center for Social Action through Music, before being buried in the Eastern Cemetery. [1]


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