Dudamel in 2012
Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez
26 January 1981
Dudamel was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, the son of a trombonist and a voice teacher. He studied music from an early age, becoming involved with El Sistema, the famous Venezuelan musical education program, and took up the violin at age ten. He soon began to study composition. He attended the Jacinto Lara Conservatory, where José Luis Jiménez was among his violin teachers. He then went on to work with José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin-American Violin Academy. Barrett Baker of Pace Academy coined his nickname, "Duda."
Dudamel began to study conducting in 1995, first with Rodolfo Saglimbeni, then later with José Antonio Abreu. In 1999, he 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.
Dudamel has won a number of competitions, including the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Germany in 2004. His reputation began to spread, attracting the attention of conductors such as Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado, who accepted invitations to conduct the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in Veneite. In April 2006 Dudamel was appointed as principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony for season 2007/2008.
Dudamel made his debut at La Scala, Milan, with Don Giovanni in November 2006. On 10 September 2007, he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time at the Lucerne Festival. On 16 April 2007 he conducted the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall in a concert in commemoration of the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, with Hilary Hahn as solo violinist, with the Pope and many other church dignitaries among the audience.
In 2011 he starred in the documentary Dudamel, El Sonido de los Niños directed by the Venezuelan filmmaker Alberto Arvelo.
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. In April 2014 Dudamel returned to conduct with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, as its Honorary Conductor, for concerts in the orchestra's home city and on tour in France, Switzerland, and Italy.
In 2015 Dudamel conducted both the opening and end titles, at the behest of famed movie composer John Williams, for the official motion picture soundtrack and film of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. At the 2016 Super Bowl, Dudamel and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) accompanied Coldplay and sang along with Chris Martin, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
On 1 January 2017, Dudamel conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in their traditional New Year's Day Concert; at the age of only 35, he is the youngest guest conductor in history to lead this event. In December 2018, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, conducting Verdi's Otello.
Dudamel served as the 2018–2019 artist-in-residence at Princeton University in celebration of Princeton University Concerts' 125th anniversary. This engagement included cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural panels & discussions, chamber concerts featuring musicians from his associated orchestras (the Met, LA, & Berlin), and in April 2019, Dudamel conducted the Princeton University Orchestra and the Princeton University Glee Club as the culmination of his year-long residency.
Dudamel made his US conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LAP) at the Hollywood Bowl on 13 September 2005 in a program consisting of "La Noche de los Mayas" by Silvestre Revueltas and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Dudamel was subsequently invited back to conduct the orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall in January 2007 in performances of "Dances of Galánta" by Zoltán Kodály, the third piano concerto of Sergei Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman as soloist, and Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra (the latter of which was recorded live and subsequently released by Deutsche Grammophon).
In April 2007, during a guest conducting engagement with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dudamel was named the LAP's next music director as of the 2009–2010 season, succeeding Esa-Pekka Salonen. His initial contract in Los Angeles was for five years, beginning in September 2009.
Dudamel began his tenure as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on 28 September 2009 with a rehearsal of Beethoven's 9th Symphony that included the Los Angeles Master Chorale and representatives of eight community-based choruses. His first official rehearsal with the orchestra followed on September 30. On 3 October he conducted Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl in "Bienvenido Gustavo", a free concert, and conducted his official inaugural concert featuring the world premiere of John Adams' City Noir and Mahler's Symphony No. 1 with his new orchestra in Walt Disney Concert Hall on 8 October.
In February 2011, the orchestra announced the extension of Dudamel's contract through the end of the 2018–2019 season, including the orchestra's 100th anniversary.
Dudamel performed his Libertador orchestral film suite with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in the "Noche de Cine" concert special, 30 July 2014, with the guitarist and Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla as special guest in an extended suite from his music for The Motorcycle Diaries, one of six varied film and television scores excerpted on the program.
In March 2015, the orchestra announced a further extension of his Los Angeles Philharmonic contract through the 2021–2022 season.
Dudamel is featured in the documentary film Tocar y Luchar, which covers El Sistema. Dudamel and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar received the WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award in New York City in November 2007. Another US television news feature on Dudamel was on 60 Minutes in February 2008, entitled "Gustavo the Great."
Dudamel is featured in the 2011 documentary Let the Children Play, a film which focuses on his work advocating for music as a way to enrich children's lives.
Gramophone, the British classical music magazine, named Dudamel its 2011 Gramophone Artist of the Year. Also in 2011, he was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In February 2012, Dudamel won a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance, for his recording of Brahms Symphony No. 4 for the label Deutsche Grammophon. In 2013, Dudamel was named Musical America's Musician of the Year and was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame. The LAP's continued commitment to innovation and new music under the direction of Dudamel and Borda prompted New Yorker critic Alex Ross to name LAP "the most creative, and, therefore, the best orchestra in America." Dudamel received the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School in 2014 and the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in 2016.
The character of Rodrigo in Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle was based, in part, on Dudamel. Rodrigo is also curly-haired, Latin American, very young, and usually referred to only by his first name. In the first episode of the show's second season, in which Rodrigo appears as a guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel appears as a guest actor, playing the part of a stage manager.
In August 2018, Dudamel announced plans for the LA Phil's 2018/2019 centennial season, including an unprecedented 50 commissions of new music and a Frank Gehry-designed permanent home for Dudamel's YOLA youth orchestra.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 22 January 2019. In his speech accepting it, he said that it should belong to Venezuela, the country he is from, and that "tomorrow [23 Jan. 2019] is a crucial day [and] the voice of the masses must be heard and respected", referring to the planned national protest on that date and the then-ongoing 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis.
Dudamel has been married twice. His first marriage, in 2006, was to Eloísa Maturén in Caracas. Maturén, also a Venezuelan native, is a classically trained ballet dancer and a journalist. Their marriage produced a son, Martín Dudamel Maturén, a U.S. citizen. In March 2015, Dudamel and Maturén filed papers for divorce. In February 2017, Dudamel married secretly in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, Spanish actress María Valverde, whom he had first met in 2016. He became a Spanish citizen in 2018.