Dr. Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein has been president of Bard College since 1975, where he is also Leon Levy
Professor in the Arts and Humanities. Under his leadership, Bard College has become a
premiere American educational institution with a successful network of innovative public
early college high schools and an acclaimed college-degree program for maximum-security
prisons, as well as a global presence with joint-degree programs across the globe. Dr.
Botstein is also chairman of the board of the Central European University and a board
member of the Open Society Foundations.
Dr. Botstein has been music director of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992 and a
conductor of international renown. He is co-artistic director of the acclaimed Summerscape
and Bard music festivals at Bard College, and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony
Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003 to 2010.
Forthcoming is a sequel to his earlier book, Jefferson's Children: Education and the
Promise of American Culture (1997). His essays for the Bard Music Festival,
published by Princeton, are soon to be anthologized. For Norton, he edited The Compleat
Brahms (1999). His Judentum und Modernität: Essays zur Rolle der Juden in der
Deutschen und Österreichischen Kultur, 1848-1938 (1991) was translated into Russian in
2003. He is editor of The Musical Quarterly and co-editor of Jews and the City
of Music, 1870-1938 (2004). In 2011, Dr. Botstein gave the esteemed Tanner
lectures at UC-Berkeley on The History of Listening, forthcoming from Oxford
University Press. A German-language anthology of his essays on music will be available from
Szolnay Verlag in Vienna in 2013.
Additional honors include the National Arts Club Gold Medal, the Centennial Medal of the
Harvard Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science
and Art, and the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of
Arts and Letters. In 2009, Dr. Botstein received the Carnegie Corporation's Academic
Leadership Award and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2010. He is also
the 2012 recipient of both Longy Conservatory's Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation
of Music in Society and the University of Chicago's Alumni Medal.
Dr. José Antonio Abreu
Musician, composer, conductor, cultural manager, public worker, and educator of several
generations of Venezuelan musicians, José Antonio Abreu was born in Valera, a city in the
northwestern Venezuelan state of Trujillo. He spent his childhood and adolescence in the
city of Barquisimeto, state of Lara, where he began his musical studies at the age of nine
with Venezuelan pianist Doralisa de Medina.
In 1957, at the age of 18, he moved to Caracas and entered the José Ángel Lamas School of
Music, where he studied with renowned Venezuelan musicians such as Vicente Emilio Sojo,
Moisés Moleiro, and Evencio Castellanos. Later, he studied orchestral conducting with
Gonzalo Castellanos Yumar, and began to perform as guest conductor and organ soloist with
the top Venezuelan orchestras of the time, including the Venezuela Symphony
His enterprising nature led him to found the Juan José Landaeta National Youth Orchestra
of Venezuela in 1975, which would later become the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, and then
the successful and world-renowned Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. This innovative and
ambitious project became the biggest challenge of his life, as well as the most inspiring
and impressive music education and social responsibility program in the world: El
Dr. Abreu's successful program-aimed at rescuing and educating disadvantaged children-has
earned him many awards and distinctions all over the world, among them the UNESCO Goodwill
Ambassador, Polar Music Prize, Frederick Stock Award, Latin Recording Academy's Trustees
Award, France's Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, TED Prize, Prince of Asturias Award,
Erasmus Prize, Yehudi Menuhin Prize, Don Juan de Borbón Award for Music, UNICEF Prize,
and Gabriela Mistral Inter-American Prize for Culture.
The El Sistema program launched by Dr. Abreu shattered the paradigms of music education in
Venezuela, and continues to provide thousands of children and young people with access to
art and music. The network of orchestras and choirs is an educational, social, and cultural
program that for 37 years has benefited more than 400,000 Venezuelan children per year.
They have become all-around citizens and have acquired values that favor their growth and
have a positive impact on their lives in society.