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José Serebrier (Conductor, Composer)

Born: December 3, 1938 - Montevideo, Urugway

The Uruguayan-American conductor and composer, José Serebrier, was born in Uruguay to a Russian father and a Polish mother. He began to conduct at the age of 12, and went to the USA in 1950 as a young man in order to study with Leopold Stokowski. He studied composition with Giannini at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (1956-1958) and conducting with Antal Doráti in Minneapolis. He also took conducting lessons with Pierre Monteux at his summer residence in Maine.

When Leopold Stokowski hailed José Serebrier as "the greatest master of orchestral balance", the 22-year-old musician was the Associate Conductor of Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra in New York. His Carnegie Hall debut was hailed by The New York Times for the "great intensity, precision, and clarity" of his music making. By the time Serebrier had made his debut recording, Charles Ives' Symphony No. 4, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he was winning accolades from music critics and the public all over the world. After five years as Associate Conductor of Stokowski's American Symphony Orchestra (1962-1967), Serebrier accepted an invitation from George Szell and the Rockefeller Foundation to become "Composer-in-Residence" of the Cleveland Orchestra, a position he held for several seasons (1968-1970). George Szell discovered Serebrier when he won the Ford Foundation American Conductors Award (together with James Levine). Szell, a member of the Jury, invited both conductors to join the Cleveland Orchestra, James Levine as an Assistant Conductor and José Serebrier as the Composer-in-Residence. From 1968 to 1971 he was music director of the Cleveland Philharmonic.

José Serebrier subsequently conducted guest engagements with most of the major orchestras in the USA, South America, and Europe; gave the first performance in Poland of the 4th Symphony of Charles Ives. He was principal guest conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (from 1982); was founder and artistic director of the International Festival of the Americas (1984). In 1985 Serebrier organised "Festival Miami". As its Artistic Director, he commissioned prominent composers such as Elliott Carter (String Quartet No. 4), gave the American premieres of F. Liszt’s only opera, a Wagner overture and many others. During his Miami festivals he conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra and many others. Serebrier conducted the American premieres of Tchaikovsky’s last opera, Iolanta, at Carnegie Hall and Massenet’s last opera Cherubin at the Manhattan School of Music. His international tours have included several Latin American tours with the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, tours with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, DSO Berlin, National Chamber Orchestra of Toulouse, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.

Eight times GRAMMY nominated José Serebrier has become one of the most recorded conductors of his generation. He has recorded more than 200 titles with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden & Freiburg, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Czech State Philharmonic Orchestra and the Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra, among others. The best-selling video Serebrier Conducts Prokofiev, L.v. Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, made in Australia by the ABC, has been shown over 50 times on the Arts and Entertainment network television in the USA, and on television stations around the world.

As a composer, José Serebrier has won most major awards, including two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowships (at 19, the youngest ever to obtain it), BMI Young Composers Award, Harvard Musical Association Award, commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, etc. His new Symphony No. 3, Symphonie Mystique, was nominated as “Best new composition” for the 2004 GRAMMY. He has more than 100 published compositions and orchestrations in the catalogues of Peer Music, Peters Editions, Universal Editions, Warner Brothers and Kalmus.

In 1969 José Serebrier married Carole Ann Farley. The French music critic Michel Faure recently completed a new biography of José Serebrier, published in June 2002 in France by L'Harmattan: José Serebrier: Conductor and Composer at the Dawn of the New Century.


Quartet for Saxophones (1955); Pequeña música for Wind Quintet (1955); Symphony No. 1 (1956); Momento psicologico for String Orchestra (1957); Suite canina for Wind Trio (1957); Symphony for Percussion (1960); The Star Wagon for Chamber Orchestra (1967); Nueve for Double Bass and Orchestra (1970); Colores magicos, variations for Harp and Chamber Orchestra, with "Synchrona" images (Washington, D.C., May 20, 1971); Preludio fantastico y danza magica for 5 Percussion (1973); Violin Concerto (1992); band music.

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Various Websites (see below)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June)

José Serebrier: Short Biography | Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

José Serebrier - Composer / Conductor (Official Website)
WarnerClassics : Artist Biography: José Serebrier
Sanctuary Classics - Artist Biographies: José Serbrier - Conductor
Crisis Magazine: José Serebrier - A Double Muse - Interview

José Serebrier - Composer Biuography (Naxos)
José Serbrier (Arts Academy)
José Serebrier (Musikproduktion)
Jose Serebrier (Eroica Recordings)

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