Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt and Lilly Disney Chair
Gustavo Dudamel is driven by the belief that music has the power to transform lives, to inspire, and to change the world. Through his dynamic presence on the podium and his tireless advocacy for arts education, Dudamel has introduced classical music to new audiences around the globe and has helped provide access to the arts for countless people in under-resourced communities. He currently serves as the Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.
In the 2023/24 Walt Disney Concert Hall season, Dudamel and the LA Phil open with a celebration of architect Frank Gehry on the 20th anniversary of the Hall’s opening. The LA Phil will also partner with the San Francisco Symphony and the San Diego Symphony for the inaugural California Festival, a celebration of the state’s collaborative and innovative spirit, with more than 50 organizations participating throughout California. Dudamel will also further his exploration of opera in Los Angeles with a performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, as well as a revival of the LA Phil’s acclaimed production of Fidelio in partnership with Deaf West Theatre and Coro de Manos Blancas (White Hands Choir) of Venezuela, featuring performances in Los Angeles and on tour throughout Europe.
Following a landmark 100th-anniversary season at the Hollywood Bowl that included a debut performance by Ricky Martin, Yuval Sharon’s groundbreaking production of Die Walküre, and more, Dudamel and the LA Phil return to the historic venue for another ambitious set of programs that includes celebrations of John Williams and Duke Ellington, the return of the acclaimed Pan-American Music Initiative, and another highly anticipated “Rock en Español” performance with Mexican supergroup Café Tacvba.
In February 2023 the New York Philharmonic announced that Gustavo Dudamel would become the orchestra’s Music and Artistic Director, beginning in the 2026/27 season, after serving as Music Director Designate in 2025/26. He will join a legacy that includes Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, and Leonard Bernstein, building on a relationship that began with his NY Phil debut in 2007 (when he conducted works by Dvořák, Prokofiev, and Chávez) and continued through 2009 performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, 2022’s The Schumann Connection—two weeks featuring the Romantic composer’s symphonic cycle coupled with premieres by Gabriela Ortiz and Andreia Pinto Correia—and 2023’s acclaimed performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.
In the summer of 2023, Dudamel travels with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela for the first time since 2017 to perform Mahler’s First Symphony, along with works by Paul Desenne and Gonzalo Grau, at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Firm in his conviction that the arts play an essential role in creating a more just, peaceful, and integrated society, Dudamel has dedicated himself to the mission of ensuring that everyone has access to beauty. A landmark event was the highly anticipated launch of Symphony, a state-of-the-art immersive VR film experience designed as both a permanent exhibition in Barcelona and a touring exhibition in two mobile pop-up cinemas that will travel to hundreds of towns across Spain and Portugal, allowing tens of thousands of people to have access to the power of symphonic music. The LA Phil also released its groundbreaking Sound/Stage digital media initiative, featuring artists such as Billie Eilish, Father John Misty, Gabriela Ortiz, John Williams, and Jessie Montgomery.
Dudamel’s advocacy for the power of music to unite, heal, and inspire is global in scope. Inspired by his transformative experience as a youth in Venezuela’s immersive musical training program El Sistema, Dudamel, along with the LA Phil and its community partners, founded YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) in 2007, now providing 1,700 young people with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support, and leadership training. In October 2021, YOLA opened its first permanent, purpose-built facility: The Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center at Inglewood, designed by architect Frank Gehry. Dudamel also created the Dudamel Foundation in 2012, which he co-chairs with his wife, actress and director María Valverde, with the goal “to expand access to music and the arts for young people by providing tools and opportunities to shape their creative futures.” In 2017, he formed the Orchestra of the Future, made up of young people representing five continents and over a dozen countries, around the Nobel Prize Concert in Sweden, where he also delivered a lecture on the unity of the arts and sciences. His 2018 “Americas” tour with the Vienna Philharmonic marked his first Encuentros program in Mexico City, which celebrated the symbolic union of a “United Americas,” a bridge he further strengthened with an LA Phil residency there in 2019. In 2021, the Dudamel Foundation presented its first European Encuentros in Spain as a way to explore cultural unity and celebrate harmony, equality, dignity, beauty, and respect through music. In April 2022, Dudamel conducted the LA Phil and a star-studded cast in a new production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, produced in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre, Deaf performers of El Sistema Venezuela’s Coro de Manos Blancas (White Hands Choir), and the Dudamel Foundation. The Dudamel Foundation also brought its Encuentros initiative to the Hollywood Bowl as part of the 100th anniversary season, in a two-week intensive global leadership and orchestral training program for young musicians from around the world that culminated in a concert at the Hollywood Bowl and a tour with the Orquesta del Encuentro to the legendary Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA.
One of the few classical musicians to become a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon, Dudamel conducted the score to Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Bernstein’s West Side Story and starred as the subject of a documentary on his life, ¡Viva Maestro!, which was released by Participant Media. He voiced the character of Trollzart in the DreamWorks animated feature Trolls World Tour and appeared in Amazon Studios’ award-winning comedy series Mozart in the Jungle. He also appeared on Sesame Street and The Simpsons and in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, for which he also recorded the score. At John Williams’ personal request, he guest-conducted the opening and closing credits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and performed with the LA Phil at the 2019 Academy Awards. In summer 2021, Dudamel performed with pop icon Christina Aguilera at the Hollywood Bowl in her first-ever full performance with orchestra and also led the LA Phil alongside international superstar Billie Eilish and FINNEAS as part of the concert film experience Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles, which premiered in September 2021 on Disney+. It was a first for a classical musician when Dudamel, together with members of YOLA, participated in the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show alongside pop stars Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars. In 2019, Dudamel was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining Hollywood greats as well as such musical luminaries as Bernstein, Ellington, and Toscanini.
Dudamel’s extensive, multiple-Grammy Award-winning discography includes 67 releases, including recent Deutsche Grammophon LA Phil recordings of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, which won the Grammy for Best Choral Performance, and the complete Charles Ives symphonies and Andrew Norman’s Sustain, which both won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Sony Classical released audio and video recordings of the Sommernachtskonzert 2019 with the Vienna Philharmonic, following its 2017 New Year’s concert recording, in which he was the youngest conductor in history to lead the famous annual performance. He has made several acclaimed recordings with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, including the soundtrack to the feature film Libertador—about the life of Simón Bolívar—for which Dudamel composed the score, and digital releases of all nine Beethoven symphonies.
Gustavo Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. His father was a trombonist and his mother a voice teacher, and he grew up listening to music and conducting his toys to old recordings. He began violin lessons as a child but was drawn to conducting from an early age. At the age of 13, as a member of his youth orchestra, he put down his violin and picked up the baton when the conductor was running late. A natural, he began studying conducting with Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In 1996, he was named Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, where his talent was spotted by José Antonio Abreu, who would become his mentor. In 1999, at the age of 18, he was appointed Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, composed of graduates of the El Sistema program. Dudamel gained international attention when he won the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition in 2004. He went on to become Music Director of the Gothenburg Symphony (2007–2012), where he now holds the title of Honorary Conductor. Dudamel’s talent was widely recognized, notably by other prominent conductors of the day, but it was the Los Angeles Philharmonic that took the initiative to sign the 27-year-old Dudamel as Music Director in 2009. Dudamel also held the position of Music Director of the Paris Opera from 2021 to 2023, leading acclaimed productions of Puccini’s Turandot and Tosca, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and John Adams’ Nixon in China, adding to an extensive operatic résumé that includes more than 30 staged, semi-staged, and concert productions around the world, including at Teatro alla Scala, the Berlin and Vienna State Operas, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the LA Phil, with repertoire ranging from Così fan tutte to Carmen, from Otello to Tannhäuser, and from West Side Story to contemporary operas by composers like John Adams and Oliver Knussen.
Dudamel has become one of the most decorated conductors of his generation. Among his many honors, he has received Spain’s 2020 Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, the 2019 Konex Foundation Classical Music Award, the 2019 Distinguished Artist Award from the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, the Páez Medal of Art, and the Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit in 2018, the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in 2016, the 2014 Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School of Music, and the Medal of the University of Burgos, Spain, in 2021. Leading publications such as Musical America and Gramophone have named him their artist of the year. Dudamel has received honorary doctorates from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in his hometown and also from the University of Gothenburg and the Colburn School. He was inducted into l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as a Chevalier in Paris in 2009. The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela was awarded Spain’s prestigious annual Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2008. Dudamel was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009. In 2016, he delivered the keynote speech for recipients of the National Medal of Art and National Humanities Medal.