“Like no one else in our times, he taught us that art is a universal right,” conductor Gustavo Dudamel said of his teacher and mentor.
José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, passed away Saturday (March 24) at age 78. Abreu started Venezuela’s free music education and social justice project in 1975, with the goal of improving children’s lives and society in general through music.
Hundreds of thousands of children, including conductor Gustavo Dudamel, have since attended El Sistema’s after school programs and performed in its youth orchestras around the country. Elements of “The System’s” methods are now used around the world.
“Music has lost one of its most luminous figures, the maestro José Antonio Abreu,” Dudamel wrote in Spanish in a tribute he posted on social media. “Like no one else in our times, he taught us that art is a universal right and that inspiration and beauty irreversibly transform the soul of a child, converting him into a fuller, healthier more complete and happier human being, and thus, into a better citizen.”