Biography of José Vázquez
José Vázquez was born in La Habana, Cuba, a city founded around 1500 in the reign of Charles V by Spanish colonists, which soon became the gateway to the New World. Having lived next to the then rabble-rouser student, Fidel Castro, with whose son he often visited the zoo, his family knew what to expect: so after the delusion of the Revolution, José left his native land with his family for North America, where he spent the ensuing 13 years of his life.
He studied at Northwestern University (Chicago) and performed in the Collegium Musicum of the University of Chicago under the direction of Howard Meyer Brown for four years before undertaking professional studies of the viola da gamba with Hannelore Müller and Baroque violin with Jaap Schroeder at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland.
In 1980 he was appointed to the Conservatory of Music in Winterthur, Switzerland, where he teaches performance practice, viola da gamba and baroque violin.
In 1982 he was appointed professor for viola da gamba at the University of Music in Vienna, Austria. Concerts as soloist (viola da gamba concerti, passions) with various European orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra Amsterdam, Zürich Opera Orchestra, Salzburg Chamber Orchestra, Dublin Radio Orchestra, Thessaloniki State Orchestra, The Smithsonian Chamber Players under directors such as, Riccardo Chailly, Roy Goodman, Florian Heyerick, Günter Jena, Helmut Rilling, Franz Welser-Möst. Recordings with diverse ensembles (Ex Tempore, Belgium; Hans-Martin Linde, Switzerland; Musica Antiqua Köln, Germany…). Founder and director of the Orpheon Baroque Orchestra and Orpheon Consort, with which numerous recordings have been made.
In recognition of his artistic achievements the Austrian Government awarded José Vázquez the Silver Cross-of-Honour for Merit of the Republic of Austria. (Silbernes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich)
Orpheon is an ensemble specialized in the performance of the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque respecting the aesthetics of the diverse styles, which these periods encompass. The ensemble employs instruments of the private collection of its director, Prof. José Vázquez, of the University for Music and the Performing Arts Vienna, which comprises over 200 choice string instruments – violins, violas, violoncellos and violas da gamba – from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries and historical bows, all in original condition or faithfully restored to the original measurements of the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Classical Periods.
This collection of fine old instruments, recognized as unique in the world by the directors and curators of prestigious museums (Metropolitan Museum in New York, Smithsonian Institute in Washington, Sotheby’s London) is exhibited all over Europe, together with concerts by the Orpheon Consort, funded in part by a generous grant of the European Commission’s programme: Culture-2000.
We are hoping to establish a permanent residence for the museum, with its own institute for performance practice and workshop for the restoration of historical string instruments.