Jesús López-Cobos was born into a musical family, his father being a leading member of the Wagner Society of Madrid. He studied for a doctorate in philosophy at Madrid University, where he also conducted the university choir; received tuition in conducting from Franco Ferrara in Venice, and worked as an assistant conductor at the Madrid Opera between 1964 and 1966. Further conducting studies followed with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music, Peter Maag at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and Jean Morel at the Juilliard School in New York. Having won third prize in the Nikolai Malko Conductors’ Competition in Copenhagen, and first prize at the Besançon Conductors’ Competition in 1968, López-Cobos made his professional conducting debut at the Prague Spring Festival and conducted Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at La Fenice opera house in Venice in 1969, after which he was appointed permanent conductor for the 1970–1971 season. He made his debut at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin during 1970 with Puccini's La Bohème, subsequently accepting a five-year contract there as a conductor from 1972 to 1976.
During the 1970s López-Cobos was active as a guest
conductor, making his debuts at the San Francisco Opera with Lucia
di Lammermoor (1972), at the Paris Opera with Il Trovatore (1975),
and at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, with Adriana Lecouvreur
(1978); he conducted Lucia di Lammermoor
at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1980. He served as chief
conductor of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, from 1981 to 1990, as principal
guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1981 to 1986,
and as associate conductor (1981–1983) and then chief conductor
(1984–1989) of the Spanish National Orchestra. He led the Deutsche Oper
in the first performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle in Japan in
1987, a year after he took up his appointment as chief conductor of the
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a position which he held until 2001,
after which he became the orchestra’s conductor emeritus. With the
Cincinnati Orchestra López-Cobos recorded extensively for the
label, raising its performance standards to an impressively high level.
In addition to his work in America he was the chief conductor of the
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra from 1990 to 2000, and was appointed chief
conductor of the Teatro Real in Madrid from 2002 onwards.
This interview was recorded in Chicago on August 1,
Portions (along with recordings)
were used on WNIB in 2000. This
made and posted on this
website in 2010.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.