Luis Herrera de la Fuente is often called “the dean of Mexican music” because he has been at the forefront of classical music in his country for more than eighty years. Herrera de la Fuente says his “first dream was to become a composer”, but he is much more. Luis Herrera de la Fuente is a skilled conductor, an accomplished musician, a successful arts administrator, and the author of three books.
Born in Mexico City on April 25, 1916, Luis Herrera de la Fuente’s parents weren’t professional musicians, but they played instruments and raised him in a home filled with music. When his parents' friends gathered at their home on Sunday afternoons to play, Herrera de la Fuente fondly remembers crawling around the feet of the musicians.
From the time he wrote his first composition for piano when he was nine, Luis Herrera de la Fuente knew he wanted to be a composer. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Música in Mexico City, where he was so dedicated to the art of composition he completed the entire curriculum there three times. He also excelled in piano, violin and voice.
When offered opportunities to conduct, Luis Herrera de la Fuente’s career changed dramatically. With inextinguishable zeal Herrera de la Fuente left Mexico City to learn from some of Europe’s greatest conductors including Sergiu Celibidache in Italy and Hermann Scherchen in Switzerland.
After studying in Europe, Herrera de la Fuente brought his knowledge and passion for music back to his native country, where he served as director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico for 18 years. Because of his indomitable spirit, audiences around the world heard music performed by a Mexican symphony orchestra for the first time.
In spite of his rigorous schedule, Herrera de la Fuente continued to compose. During his tenure with the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, he created two ballets and several orchestral pieces.
After 70 years on the podium the indefatigable conductor retired when he was 90 to rededicate himself to his original dream: composing. During the next four years the vivacious nonagenarian finished his second symphony along with three books.
Luis Herrera de la Fuente’s legacy of artistic achievement is unparalleled. He founded the Chamber Orchestra of University Radio in 1952 and led the Philharmonic of the Americas from 1958 to 1976. That group appointed him Director Emeritus in 2005.
In recognition for his outstanding work as a director and composer, Luis Herrera de la Fuente received a lifetime achievement award from the Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC) in August 2010. Prior to the ceremony, the characteristically humble maestro said, “My happiness and commitment is to composing, and if you play what I’ve written, it is good because I learn, more or less, how it sounds.”