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Jesús López Cobos

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 1981

Jesús López Cobos (Toro, Zamora, España, 1940 – Berlin, Germany, 2018) after attending Málaga Conservatory, he continued his musical studies at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. Subsequent to obtaining his degree in Philosophy and Arts from the Complutense University in Madrid in 1964 and a Diploma in Composition in 1966, he began his career at the head of the university choir, being awarded various prizes as the founder and conductor of the University Choir of Madrid. He later began studying Orchestral Conducting in Germany, rounding off these studies at the Juilliard School of Music of Nueva York.

In 1968 he won first prize at the International Orchestral Conducting Courses held in Besançon, France, and was consequently invited to conduct at the Festival of Prague concert the following year. 1969 was also to see his debut as conductor of the Opera of Venice orchestra. This double orientation, towards symphonic and operatic music, would be a constant in his professional life from that moment on. In Italy he worked for a year as second conductor at the Fenice theater in Venice, conducting various operas as a substitute for Maestro Peter Maag. In 1970, he conducted the National Orchestra and the City of Barcelona Orchestra in Spain as well as other concerts in Prague, Zurich, Bologna, Trieste, Venice, Naples and Munich. Back in Germany, he was contracted by the Berlin Deutsch Oper until 1975, after which date he began to work with and be guest conductor for the world’s most outstanding orchestras.

López Cobos has conducted, among others, the philharmonic orchestras of Vienna, Munich, Oslo and Israel, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Danish and Hamburg radio station orchestras, the radio symphonic orchestras of Bavaria and Berlin, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra of London. His debut in the United States took place in 1978, when he took up the baton of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Los Angeles, subsequently conducting the philharmonic orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

After having achieved major acclaim in opera and symphonic music world, he began a five-year contract in 1981 as the general musical director of the Berlin Deutsche Oper. Between 1981 and 1986 he was also the chief guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has likewise been the conductor designate of the Spanish National Orchestra (1984-1988), artistic director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1986-2001) and of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra (1990-2000) –of which he is music director emeritus– as well as conducting the Orchestre Français des Jeunes (1998-2001). In 2003, he was designated music director of the Teatro Real, Madrid.

This Spanish conductor's prolific activity also embraces the recording world. He has made numerous recordings at the head of the world’s most prestigious orchestras of the most important writers and composers of opera and symphonic music.

He was distinguished with the Federal Republic of Germany's Cross of Merit First Class (1989) "for his services to the Culture of said country". In addition to holding an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati (USA), he received the title of Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters (1996) and, in Spain, the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts (2000).

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