Carlos Prieto, Mexican-born and MIT-educated, is one of the most respected cellists in the world, regularly premiering works composed especially for him by Latin American, North American and European composers. Mr. Prieto began playing the cello at age four, studying with the Hungarian cellist Imre Hartman and later with Pierre Fournier in Geneva and Leonard Rose in New York. Mr. Prieto was a long time friend of Igor Stravinsky. When Stravinsky returned to Russia in 1962 after a fifty-year absence, he was accompanied in Moscow by Mr. Prieto, who was at that time studying in Russia. He also knew Shostakovich and has premiered his first Cello Concerto in different cities in Mexico as well as in Spain. Mr. Prieto playing has inspired such rare critical acclaim as "impeccable" (The New York Times), "in true bravura fashion, unafraid, secure, zestful" (The Boston Globe), "distinguished music-making" (San Francisco Chronicle), "remarkable, razor-sharp" (The Star-Ledger), and "impeccable...absolutely gorgeous...breathtaking" (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), "stunning performance" (The Globe and Mail, Toronto). Mr. Prieto has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Latin America.
He has played with orchestras from all over the world, the Royal Philharmonic in London, the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra, the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra and many others. He has been invited to many of the world’s most prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York; the Kennedy Center in Washington; the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles; Roy Thomson in Toronto; Barbican Hall and Wigmore Hall in London; Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris; Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia; Auditorio Nacional in Madrid; the Europalia, Granada, Berlin Festivals, etc.
Remarkable is Carlos Prieto’s contribution to the cello repertoire. Since 1980 he has played the world premieres of close to 80 compositions, most of which were written for him by the main composers from Mexico, Latin America, Spain and other countries. They include 25 concertos for cello and orchestra, the most recent of which are the cello concertos by Irish composer John Kinsella, premiered in 2002 in Dublin, and by Spanish composers José Luis Turina and Tomás Marco, premiered in 2003 in St. Petersburg (Russia) and Mexico respectively; the Double Concerto by Tomás Marco, premiered in Spain in 2004; and the Fantasia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra by the Mexican composer J. Gutiérrez Heras, premiered in 2005 with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mr. Prieto’s son Carlos Miguel Prieto.
2005 has been a particularly active year for Carlos Prieto, having performed in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. In April he toured European and Asian Russia. He played 14 concerts throughout Siberia and in Moscow, where, additionally, he presented the Russian edition of his book “The Adventures of a Cello.” In July he played in a series of recitals in South Africa and played a new work dedicated to him by Spanish composer Tomás Marco, Ensueño y Resplandor de Don Quijote for violin, cello and orchestra. In September, he played the world premiere of another work dedicated to him, Fantasia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra by the outstanding Mexican composer Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras. In December, he presented his new book, “5000 Años de Palabras”, about the origin and evolution of languages.
Mr. Prieto has played the Bach Suites literally all over the world: twice in New York's Lincoln Center (where he played the complete six suites in one single concert), and in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Beijing, Shanghai, New Delhi, Buenos Aires, Mexico, South America, etc.
The personable, many-faceted cellist has recorded more than 90 compositions, including the complete Bach suites, works by Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Boccherini, Fauré, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Kodaly, Bruch, Martinu, etc. In addition, he has recorded 11 CDs devoted to cello music from Latin America and Spain which include the world premieres of many concertos and chamber works.
The January 1998 issue of Strings magazine devoted a cover article to Carlos Prieto calling him a “Renaissance Man” and examining “his astoundingly rich life as a performer, author, globe-trotter and tireless promoter of Latin composers.”
Prieto has written six books: “Russian Letters,” “Around the World with the Cello,” “From the USSR to Russia,” “The Adventures of a Cello: Histories and Memoirs,” “Paths and Images of Music” and "5000 Years of Words.” His book “The Adventures of a Cello” was translated into Portuguese (Brazil) in 2001 and into Russian in 2005, and will appear in English in 2006 (University of Texas Press)
Mr. Prieto’s unusual background includes degrees in Engineering and in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which appointed him, in 1993, member of its Department of Music and Theater Arts Visiting Committee.
In 1995 he received the Mozart Medal from the Austrian Ambassador in Mexico.
He is, since 1995, Chairman of the Foundation of the Conservatory of Las Rosas, the oldest conservatory of the Americas and Mexico’s most ambitious music education project.
France awarded him the Order of the Arts and Letters in the grade of Officer in 1999.
Also in 1999 he received the Achievement Award of the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
In October of 2001, the University of Indiana honored Mr. Prieto with the Eva Janzer Award, entitled “Chevalier du Violoncelle” in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to the world of cello playing.”
In September of 2002, the School of Music of Yale University honored him with the Cultural Leadership Citation.
In 2004, he was appointed Honorary Member of the Fine Arts Advisory Council of the University of Texas at Austin.
Every three years, the National Council for the Arts of Mexico and the Las Rosas Conservatory organize the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition, so named in recognition of his career and his work in the promotion and enrichment of cello music.
Mr. Prieto makes his home in Mexico City with his wife and family. Music definitely courses through the veins of his family. The first Prieto String Quartet was formed 80 years ago by his grandparents and the current Prieto String Quartet (composed of Mr. Prieto, his brother Juan Luis, his son Carlos Miguel and his nephew, Juan Luis Prieto R.) play regularly in Mexico and toured Spain, Ireland, England and France in 1998. His son Carlos Miguel is a fast rising star within the world of classical music. In 2002, he was appointed chief conductor of the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra in Mexico and is conducting regularly in the US and Europe.