Right Livelihood Award Foundation mourns José Antonio Abreu

Press releases 25.03.2018

José Antonio Abreu, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2001, has died aged 78. Maestro Abreu is founder of El Sistema youth orchestras of Venezuela providing free music education and has inspired similar projects in more than 60 countries around the world.

– Maestro Abreu’s contribution was larger than life. The El Sistema concept continues to thrive in Venezuela and has spread to many other countries. His legacy will live on, and so will the gratitude of all those whose lives were touched by El Sistema, said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

Maestro Abreu was born in Venezuela in 1939. He graduated as a composer and organist from Venezuela’s national conservatory of music in 1964. In 1975 he began the work for which he has been awarded, founding the El Sistema youth orchestras. The renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel is but one of many students Abreu has taught.

The orchestras have had a substantial social impact in the communities in which they are active, promoting music throughout the community and leading to something of a musical and cultural renaissance. Studies have shown that the young people involved in the orchestras also perform better in other areas of academic and social life. The programme has inspired similar systems in more than 60 other countries.

Maestro Abreu received the Right Livelihood Award in 2001 “for achieving a unique cultural renaissance, bringing the joys of music to countless disadvantaged children and communities”.

– Our thoughts are with Maestro Abreu’s family and closest friends. He will be painfully missed by so many. But looking back at his life and work gives a profound sense of inspiration and joy, said Ole von Uexkull.

Venezuela has announced three days of national mourning for “Maestro Abreu”.

Media contacts

Emoke Bebiak

English, French & International Media

E-mail: emoke.bebiak@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +41 (0)78 333 84 84

Marina Shupac

Eastern European Media

E-mail: marina.shupac@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: + 373 799 74 628

Mikaela Fredrikson

Multimedia & Copyright

E-mail: mikaela.fredrikson@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +46 (0)70 407 0325

Nayla Azzinnari

Spanish Media

E-mail: nayla@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +54 9 11 5460 9860

Nina Tesenfitz

German Media

E-mail: presse@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +49 (0)170 5763 663

Johannes Mosskin

Swedish Media

E-mail: johannes@rightlivelihood.org
Phone: +46 (0)70 437 11 48