Multiple Grammy winner José Serebrier, who is today's most frequently recorded conductor, established himself as a significant composer with many acclaimed works very early in his career.
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay of Russian and Polish parents, he began to study the violin at the age of nine, and at age eleven he made his conducting debut. He received a United States State Department Fellowship to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music with Bohuslav Martinu, Vittorio Giannini and with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood, and conducting with Pierre Monteux in his conductor's school in Maine. As soon as he arrived in America at age 17, Serebrier won a BMI Young Composers Award with his First Symphony and Quartet for Saxophones, followed by many other awards both as composer and conductor. After graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (in two years instead of the usual four), Serebrier was invited by Antal Dorati to study conducting in Minneapolis, and became Apprentice Conductor of the Minnesota Symphony for two years. While in Minneapolis José Serebrier entered the Conductor's Competition in Baltimore, and won first prize, shared with James Levine. George Szell, who was in the jury, invited Serebrier to be the Cleveland Orchestra's Composer in Residence for several years. Prior to that prestigious engagement, Serebrier was for five years Associate Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, with Leopold Stokowski as Music Director.
Serebrier has received many commissions, including the Harvard Musical Association for his Fantasia for string quartet or string orchestra; the National Endowment for the Arts commission for his music for the Joffrey Ballet based on his Harp Concerto "Colores Mágicos"; "Poema Elegíaco", commissioned by Leopold Stokowski for the opening concert of the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; the Double Bass Concerto "Nueve" for the New Jersey Symphony (just recorded by bassist Gary Karr), and many others.
In 1957, Leopold Stokowski surprised the musical world by replacing the announced world premiere of the legendary Symphony No. 4 by Charles Ives, which proved unplayable at the time, with the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 by the 17-year-old composer José Serebrier. This work appeared twice on CDs this year. First, the Stokowski version with the Houston Symphony Orchestra (live recording) on Guild Records, and now on Naxos, the first studio recording with the composer conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Serebrier was 21 years old when Leopold Stokowski named him Associate Conductor of the newly formed American Symphony Orchestra in New York, a post he held for five years. Leopold Stokowski told TIME Magazine that “Serebrier is the greatest master of orchestral balance”. Stokowski premiered Serebrier's Symphony No. 1, written by the then 17-year-old student, conducted the first New York performance of Serebrier’s Elegy for Strings in 1962 and premiered the composer’s Poema Elegiaco. His violin concerto Winter was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in 1995, and has since been performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, and has had performances in Madrid, Chicago, Miami and many cities around the world.
Other recent works include his Carmen Symphony based on Bizet's "Carmen" (recorded several times), Symphony for Percussion, orchestrations of Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Lullaby, commissioned by the Gershwin family. Other recent published works include Dorothy & Carmine! for Flute and chamber orchestra, At Dusk, in Shadows for solo flute; Night Cry for brass ensemble and George & Muriel for double bass and chorus. His new Flute Concerto with Tango is being published in January. This important work was recorded this year by virtuoso flutist Sharon Bezali, who commissioned it, with the Australian Chamber Orchestra after an enormously successful tour of Australia. BIS Records is releasing it in 2011.
Many prominent conductors have recorded his works. Serebrier himself has received multiple Grammy nominations as a composer and conductor.