Aurelio de la Vega was born in La Habana, Cuba, on November 28, 1925 and became an American citizen in 1966. Since the early 60s he has been an important force in the United States and in the Latin American musical scene.
After studying with Ernst Toch in California (1947-1948) he occupied relevant positions in his native land (Dean, School of Music, University of Oriente; Adviser, National Institute of Culture; Vice-President, Havana Philharmonic Orchestra), toured the United States as lecturer (1952-1954) and settled in Los Angeles in 1959, where he has been very active as composer and lecturer. Other positions held include those of Past-President of the Cuban National Music Council (UNESCO), 1950-1956; Past-Treasurer of the Cuban Section of the Inter-American Music Association (Caracas), 1952-1959; Past-Second Vice-President of the Inter-American Music Center (Organization of American States, Washington, D.C.), 1952-1958; Past-President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Composers, U.S.A., 1964-1968; Past-Chairman of the West Coast Branch of the United States Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, 1965-1972, and Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (Fulbright Research Award, Washington-Rio de Janeiro), 1985. He was Visiting Professor at the University of Southern California during the summer of 1959. From 1959 to 1992 he was Professor of Music and Director of the Electronic Music Studio at California State University, Northridge. In 1971 he was awarded the Outstanding Professor Award of the entire California State University system. At present, he is a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of said University, and is a Member of the Academy of Arts and Letters of Chile, and of the Brazilian Academy of Music.
He has lectured extensively in Cuba, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Argentina and Chile, mainly on contemporary music, on electronic music and on the art of Latin America. His list of compositions (many published and many commercially recorded, almost all commissioned works from 1962 on) include symphonic pieces, chamber music, solo piano, solo instruments with tape, song cycles, cantatas, ballet music, solo guitar and electronic music works. His compositions have been played by major orchestras, ensembles, important soloists and singers in numerous cities of Cuba, the United States, Europe, Israel, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Japan, Puerto Rico and India. Many of his works have been commercially recorded on Panart, Orion, Avant, Crystal, Opus One, North/South Consonance, Labor, Vienna Modern Masters, Tapa, Centaur, Raptoria Caam, Musicians Showcase, and Universidade Río Grande do Sul Recordings (Brazil).
The recipient of numerous prizes, commissions, awards and distinctions, among them, Virginia Colliers Chamber Music Award (Washington, 1955), Andrew Mellon Fellowship (University of Pittsburg, 1963), Distinguished Professor Award (California State University, Northridge, 1974), Friedheim Award of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, 1978 and 1984), City of Los Angeles Commendation (Office of the Mayor,1978 and 1993), California State Senate Commendation (Sacramento, 1979), Creativity Award (California State University, Northridge, 1984 and 1991), Council of the City of Los Angeles Resolution Honoring Maestro Aurelio de la Vega (Los Angeles, 1995), Certificate of Recognition (City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Los Angeles, 2000) and FACE (Facts About Cuban Exiles)Award (Miami, 2000). His Variación del Recuerdo (“Variation of the Remembrance”), for string orchestra (1999) received a Latin Grammy nomination in 2009. In 2010 he received the Warren Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cintas Foundation.
Commissioning of works include those extended by the Coolidge Foundation of the Library of Congress (Washington, 1962), the Third Inter-American Music Festival (Washington, 1963), the Third Caracas International Music Festival (Caracas, 1965), the Los Angeles philharmonic Orchestra (1977), the Klimt Foundation (Sidney, 1981), the American Chamber Symphony (Los Angeles, 1983), the University of California at San Diego (La Jolla, 1985), the Sociedad de Música de Cámara de Zaragoza (Zaragoza, 1987), the Buenos Aires Encounters of Contemporary Music (Buenos Aires, 1990), the Culver City Chamber Orchestra (Culver City, 1998), and the Moldenhauer Foundation of the Library of Congress (Washington, 2006), in addition to patrons, singers and instrumentalists.
He has received honors and decorations from various governments (Medal of the Order of Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, Republican Cuba, 1956; Medal of the Order of Eloy Alfaro, Colombia, 1961; Medal of the Order of the Sun, Peru, 1969; Medal of the Order of Vicente Emilio Sojo, Venezuela, 1985) for his contributions to Latin American art music. He is also a well-known essayist on the pictorial art of Latin America.