Eduardo Mata

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Born: September 5, 1942 Died: January 4, 1995
Eduardo Mata was an internationally known conductor. He conducted a wide repertoire and was particularly recognized for twentieth century music, particularly of Latin American composers.

He began studying guitar when he was about eight years old. In 1953, he enrolled in the National Conservatory of Music, studying with Rodolfo Halffter and Jose Moncayo. From 1960 to 1963, he was in the composition workshop of Carlos Chavez and Julián Orbón. After winning a Koussevitzky Fellowship, he traveled to Tanglewood where he continued his studies in composition under Gunther Schuller and in conducting from Max Rudolf and Erich Leinsdorf.

In 1965, he became the permanent conductor of the Guadalajara Orchestra while also taking an appointment as head of the Music Department at the University of Mexico. Most of his compositions were written in the 1960s, before his conducting career began to dominate his time. They consist of several chamber works including a well-regarded cello/piano sonata, Improvisations (1966) for two pianos and strings, and three symphonies.

He resigned from the Guadalajara position in 1972 when he was appointed principal conductor of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in Arizona. He remained in that position until he was offered the position of music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1977.

Although Dallas is the major financial, business, and arts center of the American Southwest, at the time its orchestra was in shaky condition. It had closed for the third time in its history in 1974, due to an insurmountable deficit. A new organization plan had reopened it, under the temporary leadership of American Louis Lane, billed as its "guest conductor." Lane had just achieved, for the first time, a full-time, 52-week contract for the musicians, deemed essential to establishing the security needed to attract worthy players. Mata brought the orchestra to what commentators referred to as its second "golden age," referring to the previous golden age of conductors Antal Dorati (1945-1949) and Walter Hendl (1949-1958). He lifted the orchestra to unexpectedly high standards, and made a number of digital recordings with it for Pro Arte, RCA Victor, Delos, Telarc, and Dorian.

At the helm of the Dallas Symphony, he participated in the planning of its acoustically excellent concert hall in the Meyerson Symphony Center and led the first concerts in the hall. The recordings made there with Dorian Records are counted among the finest.

As a conductor, he was controversial. He was youthful for such an important position, and was sometimes criticized for inconsistency in interpretation -- criticisms that became less frequent over the years. He had a penchant for deliberate tempos, but produced a rich, detailed, and transparent orchestral sound.

He was also the principal guest conductor of the New Zealand Symphony and artistic director of Solistas de Mexico, and guest conducted widely, including appearances in London, Berlin, Rotterdam, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco. He stepped down from his Dallas position in 1993 and was succeeded by American conductor Andrew Litton. With the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, he and Dorian Records launched a fruitful series of recordings of Latin-American orchestral compositions, concentrating on such composers as Antonio Estévez, Ginastera, Villa-Lobos, and Revueltas. The series continued after he was killed when the private plane he piloted went down near Cuernavaca Airport on January 4, 1995. A high school in Dallas has been renamed after him, and the state of Oaxaca (Mexico) established an "Eduardo Mata Autumn Festival" in his honor.

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