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Serebrier, José (1938–)

Serebrier, José (1938–)

José Serebrier (b. 3 December 1938), Uruguayan composer and conductor. Of Russian and Polish descent, Serebrier was born in Montevideo, where he studied violin with Juan Fabbri. At Montevideo's Municipal School of Music his instructors were Miguel Pritsch (violin) and Vicente Ascone (harmony). He also took lessons in composition, fugue, and counterpoint with Guido Santórsola, and piano with Sarah Bourdillon. After attending counterpoint and composition classes at the National Conservatory with Carlos Estrada, he moved to the United States to enter the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (1956), where he studied composition under Vittorio Giannini. He has resided in the United States ever since. Serebrier attended Aaron Copland's classes at Tanglewood, and Antal Dorati and Pierre Monteux coached him in conducting. When he was only seventeen he was chosen by Leopold Stokowski to be associate conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (1962–1967). He received scholarships and grants from the Organization of American States, and the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Koussevitsky foundations. Serebrier served as conductor of the Utica Symphony (1960–1962) and composer-in-residence with the Cleveland Orchestra (1968–1971). At eighteen Serebrier composed his Leyenda de Fausto Overture, which won the Uruguayan National Award. He experimented with mixed media, adding lighting to his works, as in Colores mágicos, premiered by him at the Fifth Inter-American Music Festival in Washington, D.C., in 1971. In his later works, he explored more advanced composition techniques.

Since 1989 Serebrier has conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and frequently has been guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic. Many of his compositions have been performed, among them Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Winter), which premiered March 1994 in New York and which he later recorded with the Royal Philharmonic. In addition to his recordings, Serebrier also has numerous film scores to his credit. In 1984 he founded the Miami Music Festival. He is the recipient of the Alice Ditson Award for his achievements in contemporary music. In 1995 his violin concerto, Winter, premiered in New York. It received wide critical acclaim and has since been performed in London and Madrid. In 2001 French music critic Michel Faure published a new biography about his life and work. In 2004 he received a Grammy nomination for Best New Composition with his Symphonie Mystique. That same year, his arrangement of Bizet's music into the Carmen symphony won the Latin Grammy for Best Classical Album. In 2005, he released his first recording with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He conducts and records frequently in the United States and London.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Faure, Michel. José Serebrier: Un chef d'orchestre et compositeur a l'aube du XXIéme siecle: Propos et textes receueillis, traduits et annotés, discographie complete. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2001.

Salgado, Susan. Breve historia de la música culta en el Uruguay, 2d ed. (1980).

Vinton, John, ed. Dictionary of Contemporary Music (1974); New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).

                                    Susana Salgado

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