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On the subject of OCNOS, by José Luis Turina, work for grand orchestra, based on poems by Luis Cernuda

We are dealing with a score whose composition denotes, as much in form as in orchestral performance, a notable mastery on the part of a still young composer. It is the work of an artist who is at the same time intelligent, sensitive, imaginative and preoccupied with expressing his thinking clearly in an entirely contemporary language, completely of our time, without concessions to ease... What is certainly evident is the pleasure he takes in a careful mise en oeuvre, a beautiful work of craftmanship. The great musicians who are now renown as "classic contemporaries" (Strawinsky, Bartók, Schoenberg, Berg... just to name a few, following Debussy, de Falla, Ravel, etc.), have had, each in his own way, that same pleasure in a well-done work, irreproachable in the area of metier, independently of their genius. This quality, which is not as common in our times, is a great joy to find in a young musician like José Luis Turina, and even more so when it is associated with other qualities in the field of invention...

(Henri Dutilleux, IV Queen Sofía Composition Award of the Ferrer Salat Foundation. Madrid, october 1986)


Born in Madrid, 1952. His musical training took place at the conservatories of Barcelona and Madrid, as well as in many master courses (Vilaseca-Salou, Granada, Santiago de Compostela), mainly in Piano (Manuel Carra), Violín (Hermes Kriales), Harpsichord (Genoveva Gálvez), Harmony (José Olmedo), Counterpoint and Fugue (Francisco Calés), Orchestral conducting (Enrique García Asensio and Jacques Bodmer) and Composition (Antón García Abril, Román Alís, Rodolfo Halffter and Carmelo Bernaola). In 1979 he received a grant from the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for studying at the Spanish Fine Arts Academy in Rome, where he attended the classes in Composition given by Franco Donatoni at the Santa Cecilia Academy.

En 1981 he won the First Prize in the Internacional Composition Contest First Centennial of the Orchestra of the Valencia Conservatory with the work Meeting Point. In 1986. In 1986 he won the First Prize of the Musical Composition Contest Queen Sofía, from the Ferrer Salat Foundation, with Ocnos (Orchestral Music on Poems by Luis Cernuda).

He has been commissioned by different official national and international institutions, as Spanish National Radio, Ministry for Culture, Spanish Society for Broadcasting (SER), Spanish National Orchestra, Madrid's Cercle for Fine Arts, Cuenca's Week of Religious Music, Community of Madrid's Autumn Festival, Alicante's Contemporary Music Festival, Rencontres Internationales de Musique Contemporaine de Metz (France)), Tenerife's Symphonic Orchestra, Canarias' Festival, Juan March Foundation, Community of Madrid's Department of Culture, Spanish Radio Television Symphonic Orchestra, Music at Compostela, Colgate University (Hamilton, New York), Expo' 92, Caja Madrid Foundation, Soria's Musical Autumn, Segovia's Chamber Music Weeks, Madrid's Symphonic Orchestra, Galicia's Symphonic Orchestra, Mexico's Ministry for Culture, San Sebastian Music Festival, Community of Madrid's Symphonic Orchestra, as well as by many national and international soloists and chamber music groups.

His works have been played in many important festivals, such as Cuenca's Week of Religious Music, Lisbon's Contemporary Music Meetings, La Rochelle's International Music Festival, Cuenca's Chamber Opera Meetings, Prix Italia 1983, International Platform of Composers (UNESCO, Paris, 1984), Alicante's Contemporary Music Festival, Strasbourg's Music Festival, Barcelona's International Music Festival, Vicenza's Music Festival (Italy), Madrid's Autumn Festival, Madrid- Burdeos' Biennal, Metz's Rencontres Internatinales de Musique Contemporaine (France), Zagreb's Musical Biennal, Granada's International Musica and Dance Festival, Geneve's Spanish Music Festival, Rome's Italy-Spain Festival, La Habana's festival, Canarias' Festival, Oporto's Days of Contemporary Music, Seville's EXPO'92, Milan's Antologia di Musica Spagnola contemporanea, the cycle A series of 20th century Spanish music at Almeida Theatre (London), Soria's Musical Autumn, Santander's Music festival, and the Festival COMA of the Association of Madrid's Composers, among others. In january 1992, his Violin Concerto was played in the inaugural concert of Madrid, Cultural capital of Europe.

Likewise, he has taken part in many juries of different national and international composition and performance contests (Madrid –SGAE, Queen Sofía- Oviedo, Granada, Alcoy, Valencia, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, La Coruña, México –Rodolfo Halffter Prize-, among others).

From 1981 to 1985 he was teacher of Harmony, Counterpoint and Composition in the Conservatoy of Music at Cuenca, where he also was Secretary and, later, Director. From 1985 he was teacher of Harmony in the Royal Conservatory of Music at Madrid and, from 1992, of the Conservatory of Music Arturo Soria, also at Madrid. Between 1991 and 1993 he was chairman of harmony and Counterpoint in the High Music School Queen Sofía , of the Isaac Albéniz Foundation. In september 1991 he led the course of Composition and Analysis of the International Contemporary Music festival at Alicante, and in october 2001, along with Cristóbal Halffter, the course devoted to contemporary opera in the Conservatory of Music at Zaragoza. From 1998 he is teacher of Analysis in the High Musical Studies School at Santiago de Compostela.

In 1986 he was designated Correspondent Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Santa Isabel de Hungría (Sevilla), and in 1997, of that of Granada.

In 1989 and 1992 he was invited by different USA universities (Colgate University –Hamilton, N.Y.-, Oneanta University, Cornell University and Hunter College of N.Y.), to pronounce and introduce a series of conferences and concerts about contemporary spanish music, taking place in september 1992 the world premiere of his work Three Sonnets, commissioned by the Department of Roman Languages of Colgate University. In 1996 he was invited by the Spanish Consulate in New York and the General Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers to give master classes in the Manhattan School at New York.

In 1995 he was commissioned by the Cercle of Fine Arts of Madrid, in cooperation with the Department od Education and Culture of Madrid's Community, to write the musical-scenic work The Strike on the Water, performed in the re-opening of the Theatre Fernando de Rojas, in september 1996.

From 1993 to 1996 he was Technical Advisor for Music and Scenic Arts of the General Subdirection of Artistic Teachings of the Ministry for Education and Science, with the aim of participating in the ellaboration of the normative developpement of the reformation of the teachings of music, dance and drama in the frame of the new Organic Law of General Regulation of the Educative System. In october 2008 he came back to this same work, and in february 2001 was designated Artistic Director of The National Youth Orchestra of Spain (JONDE), until nowadays. From 2005 to 2015 he was president of the Spanish Association of Youth Orchestras.

In december 2007 he led the seminary Youth Orchestras and Social Task , joining Piadeia Galiza Foundation and Spanish Association of Youth Orchestras, around the National System of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela, with the presence of its founder, Dr. José Antonio Abreu.

In november 1996 he was awarded with the National Prize of Music of the Ministry for Education and Culture. Since october 2001 until october 2008 he was member of the Music Council of the National Institute for Music and Scenic Arts (INAEM). In 2007 he was designated member of the Artistic Council of the National Auditory of Musica of Madrid.

In january 2000, his Piano Concerto was performed for the first time in the 16th Canarias' Music Festival. In october of the same year his opera D.Q. (Don Quijote in Barcelona), with libretto by Justo Navarro, scenic direction by La Fura dels Baus and scenography by Enric Miralles, had its world premiere in Barcelona's Liceo Great Thatre. In may 2001, its DVD recording was awarded with the 16th Prize to the best DVD of an opera production by the magazine CD Compact. In november 2001, D.Q. was awarded with the Prize Daniel Montorio of the Spanish General Society of Authosr and Publishers to the best score of a lyric work first peformed in Spain during the year 2000.

In november 2001, the Tokyo String Quartet performed, in the Chamber Hall of Madrid's National Auditory, the world premiere of his string quartet Clémisos y Sustalos, commissioned by that chamber group. In may 2003 the sopranist version of Four Sonnets by Shakespeare, commissioned by Madrid's Symphonic Orchestra, had its world premiere in Madrid.

In may 2003, Sevilla University and the Central Theatre devoted him their Concert à la carte, including the world premiere of the soprano version of Four Sonnets by Shakespeare, and the definitive instrumentation of Ocnos.

In may 2004 he finished the composition of the string quartet The seven last words of Jesus Christ in the Cross, commissioned by Caja Madrid Foundation for the cycle Haydn at Cádiz, where it was performed by the Brodsky Quartet. In october 2004, the Sonata for violin and piano, commissioned by the Spanish Embassy at Bulgary in commemoration of the Hispanity Day, was performed for the first time in the Bulgarian Hall, at Sofia.

In january 2006, Málaga's Filarmonic Orchestra devoted him its "12th Cycle of Contemporary Music", made up with nine symphonic and chamber concerts, in which 18 works by him were performed, including the premiere of Sleeping Notes, for harp, and the Violin Concerto, with Ara Malikian as soloist, along with the release of an ample biographical study written by José Luis Temes, as well as a monographic CD with five orchestral works.

In may 2006 he was part of the jury of the 2nd Iberoamerican Composition Prize Rodolfo Halffter, which took place in Mexico D.F., along with Mario Lavista, Mario Davidovsky, Roberto Sierra and Tristan Murail.

In december 2006, the Community of Madrid's Orchestra and Choir, conducted by José Ramón Encinar, performed in Madrid the premiere of Three Carols.

In april 2008, the Youth Orchestra Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, conducted by Alfredo Rugeles, performed in the Teresa Carreño Theatre at Caracas the Phantasy on a Phantasy by Alonso Mudarra, within the 1st Hispanic-Venezuelan Arts Festival. In the same month, the Centre for the Diffusion of Contemporary Music devoted him a semimonographic concert, in which the Plural Ensemble, conducted by Fabián Panisello, performed Variations on two themes by Scarlatti, Tumulus of the Butrterfly and Kammerconcertante.

In may 2008, the Community of Madrid's Orchestra, conducted by José Ramón Encinar, performed the premiere of Tour de Manivelle (Music for five shorts movies by Segundo de Chomón), within the projection-concert that took place in the Zarzuela Theatre at Madrid.

In july 2008 the monographic CD José Luis Turina. A Portrait opened the Collection "Contemporary spanish and lationoamerican composers" of the BBVA Foundation and the label Verso.

In august 2008, in the María Pita Square at La Coruña and before an audience of over 5.000 people, the brass and percussion section of the Galicia's Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Victor Pablo Pérez performed the premiere of Hercules and Cronos, written in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the granting of the title of City to La Coruña.

In april 2009 he is appointed to collaborate with Maestro José Antonio Abreu for the creation of Iberoamerican Youth Orchestra, which, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, gave its first concert in Estoril in december 2009, during the 19th Summit of Iberoamerican Chiefs of State and Government.

In january 2010, the Madrid Community Choir gives the world premiere of Ritirata notturna, written for its 25th anniversary.

In october 2012 he is object of a homage for his 60 anniversary, at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid.

In January 2013 the label Verso releases the CD José Luis Turina. Chamber music, second monographic recording devoted to his music in the collection "Contemporary spanish and latinoamerican composers" of the BBVA Foundation, including six chamber pieces performed by Plural Ensemble conducted by Fabián Panisello.

In June 2014 the label Verso releases a CD including Exequias (In memoriam Fernando Zóbel) and the Violin concerto, performed by the Córdoba Orchestra, the Ziryab Choir and Ara Malikian, conducted by José Luis Temes.

In september 2018 the German label Profil releases the CD Turina x Turina, with arrangements for wind quintet of Joaquín Turina's pieces, performed by Azahar Ensemble.

In november 2018 the International Piano Competition "Composers of Spain" devotes him its 19th edition, in which all the contestants perform some of his piano works in the eliminatory phase.

In November 2019 he is awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid, and in February 2020 he receives a tribute from the Ibero-American General Secretariat in recognition of his work in the implementation and development of the Iberorquestas Juveniles Programme.

On February 29th, 2020, he acquires the condition of retired, leaving his position as head of the artistic direction of the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España.

Commissioned by the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Choir, between November 2020 and February 2021 he makes a version for reduced orchestra of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"), which is premiered on October 7, 2021 at the National Auditorium conducted by David Afkham.

In March 2022, the Plenary of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando appointed him academic of the Music Section, filling the vacancy left by Antón García Abril.

In April 2023 he was appointed Honorary Academician of the Valencian Music Academy, and that same month he took possession of the medal n. 30 of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

April 2023