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José Serebrier (born 3 December 1938) is a Uruguayan conductor and composer.



Serebrier was born in Montevideo, and first conducted an orchestra at the age of eleven, while at school. The school orchestra toured the country, which meant he was able to notch up over one hundred performances within four years. He graduated from the Municipal School of Music in Montevideo at fifteen, having studied violin, solfege, and Latin American folklore. The National Orchestra, known as SODRE, announced a composition contest. Within two weeks, Serebrier had composed his "Legend of Faust" overture. It won. To his huge disappointment he was not allowed to conduct it, because he was only fifteen. Now he is one of the most recorded conductors of his generation.

Early success

He was awarded a United States State Department Fellowship, at the Curtis Institute of Music, with Vittorio Giannini. Later he studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. His first symphony, written at the age of 17, was premiered by Leopold Stokowski, who was 56 years older than him. His New York conducting debut with the American Symphony Orchestra was at Carnegie Hall in 1965. Ives' Fourth Symphony used to be considered so difficult that it was performed using three conductors at its premiere in 1965, almost 50 years after its composition. Stokowski, Serebrier and another conductor performed it this way. A few years later Serebrier conducted it on his own. It was his recording debut, and Hi-Fi News was euphoric. They wrote "Serebrier's recording of the Ives Symphony is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the Gramophone". The third symphony and his "Fantasia for strings" are amongst his most popular works. His style is energetic, colourful and melodic. One of his most unusual works is "Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile for accordion and chamber orchestra".

Serebrier does not normally use a baton to conduct. He last used a baton in 1975 when he was conducting Rodolfo Halffter's Proclamation for a Poor Easter on Easter Sunday; in his passion, the maestro accidentally stabbed himself through his hand, and continued conducting the 150 member chorus and brass percussion ensemble while clenching a handkerchief to stem the bleeding. He told reporters later, "I'm all right, and I will be conducting again; but without a baton." [1]


In 1976 he won the Ditson Conductor's Award for commitment to American music. In 2004 he won the Best Classical Album of 2004 for his own work, the "Carmen Symphony". This is possibly his best work. In 2005 he was a nominee, for Glazunov's 5th Symphony. In 2006 he was a nominee for the Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album. He has had very many conducting posts, including principal guest conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra 1982-83. He has won 8 Grammy Awards.

Selected compositions

  • 1948 Sonata for violin solo, Op. 1
  • 1952 Elegy for strings
  • 1955 Sonata for Viola Alone
  • 1957 Momento Psicológico for violin & orchestra
  • 1957 Suite Canina (Canine Suite)
  • 1958 Poema Elegaico for violin & orchestra
  • 1958 Partita (Symphony No. 2)
  • 1960 Fantasia for strings
  • 1963 Variations on a Theme from Childhood, for trombone (or bassoon) & strings
  • 1966 Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile, for accordion & chamber orchestra
  • 1973 Seis por Television (6 for television)
  • 1986 George and Muriel, for double bass, double bass choir & chorus
  • 1991 Dorothy and Carmine!, for flute & strings
  • 1999 Winterreise
  • 2003 Symphony No. 3 for strings & soprano ("Symphonie mystique")


  1. ^ "People", TIME Magazine, April 7, 1975; "Conductor stabs himself... but the band plays on", Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, OH), March 25, 1975, p1


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