The composer Leonardo Balada (Barcelona, 1933), a former student at the Liceu Conservatory, is the winner of the XVIII Tomás Luis de Victoria Ibero-American Music Prize for “having contributed substantially to the enrichment of the musical heritage of the Ibero-American peoples through his creative work”.
The Jury decided to award him the Prize “in attention to the universality of his musical language without losing its roots, to the vital force of a work that has managed to impose itself on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, its international trajectory, the breadth of its catalog and its ethical commitment”.
After studying piano and theory at the Liceu Conservatory, he moved to New York where he completed his composition studies at the Juilliard School in 1960. His teachers include Aaron Copland, Vincent Persichetti and Igor Markevitch. He was Professor of Composition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, for 50 years until his retirement in 2020.
In 1993 he obtained the National Music Prize of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
The works of Balada, one of the most prominent Spanish composers of his generation, are regularly performed in Europe and America by the main orchestras and soloists: the Philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, and Israel; the Philadelphia Orchestra; the Symphonic Orchestras of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Cincinnati, Detroit, New Orleans, Prague, Mexico and Düsseldorf; the National Orchestras of Washington, Ireland, Spain, Lyon, Toulouse, and Jerusalem; the London Philharmonic; the radio orchestras from Luxembourg, BBC, Berlin, Leipzig, Helsinki, Hannover, Spain, and Moscow; the Chamber Orchestras of Chicago, and Lausanne; and the Czech Sinfonietta, among others.
He has composed several operas, including “Hangman, ¡Hangman!”, “Zapata” and “Cristóbal Colón”. This opera premiered at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in 1989 and was performed by Josep Carreras and Montserrat Caballé. The Washington Times critics called the opera a “masterpiece”.
“A characteristic of some of Balada’s works is his interest in controversial themes: opposition to war (Guernica), freedom (Symphony in Black-Tribute to Martin Luther King), historical and social themes (the Torquemada cantata, the Zapata opera), environmental concerns (Music for oboe and orchestra) and protest against death (the cantata No-res)”, as Jaime Mira writes on the Carnegie Mellon University website.
The Jury of this XVIII edition of the Prize has been made up of the composer Marlos Nobre, the Melómano magazine and Diacronías Festival director, Alfonso Carraté, the musicologists Rosa María Fernández García and María Nagore Ferrer and the musicologist and writer Stefano Russomanno.
The SGAE Tomás Luis de Victoria Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, was created in 1996 and represents the highest public recognition of a living composer for his contribution to the Ibero-American community musical life enrichment throughout his professional career and through of their work.
The Liceu Conservatory Foundation congratulates Leonardo Balada for such high recognition, an award for a solid and long creative career.