Did anyone really know José Antonio Abreu?main
The founder of El Sistema, who died yesterday, studied at an American university and was reported by his official biography to be fluent in English, but when I tried to talk to him he insisted on an interpreter.
He seemed reluctant to say anything meaningful. Even his platitudes had been watered down to nothingness. After a while, I gave up and we shook hands.
His reticence, I was told by some in his circle, was rooted in a fear of his country’s increasingly odious regime, which he continued to support, and in a paramount need to protect his educational creation, El Sistema.
The only person who really knew him was Gustavo Dudamel, who acknowledged José Antonio Abreu as a surrogate father and for many years did nothing without his approval. When I asked Gustavo to describe Abreu’s special qualities, he said something like ‘well, you have to know him….’
A mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Abreu with strongman Maduro