Tributes have been paid following the death of José Abreu, founder of a renowned music programme that changed the lives of thousands of children.
Abreu founded El Sistema (the system), providing free music education in Venezuela’s shantytowns and poor neighbourhoods.
The programme has inspired similar systems in other countries.
Venezuela announced three days of national mourning for “Maestro Abreu”, who died on Saturday aged 78.
He began the music project in 1975 and counted renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel among his students.
“With devoted love and eternal gratitude to my mentor and father of El Sistema,” tweeted Dudamel, who is now director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
What was José Abreu’s background?
Abreu was born in the Andean city of Valera on May 7, 1939. Music ran deep in his family – his grandfather had founded an orchestra in Italy and his grandmother was a passionate opera fan. Abreu’s mother played piano, and his father the guitar.
He pursued music studies but later – to help support his family – he moved to Caracas to take a degree in economics.
He later worked as an economist for the government and was elected as a substitute member of parliament in the 1960s.