From the time I was very young I´ve had a natural interest in music, but it was not revealed to me as a life´s driving passion until the miraculous night when I discovered the soul of the cello in Carlos Prieto´s hands. It was a revelation that left me infected forever after with the mysteries of music and the joy of a great friend.
— Gabriel García Márquez
Like Rostropovich, Carlos Prieto is a true champion of the cello. A creative artist, scholar and storyteller, Carlos has been a prolific contributor to the flow of music throughout the western hemisphere, premiering compositions of some of the greatest contemporary composers and helping to nurture and develop an entire generation of Latin America's most talented musicians. I am privileged to know him as a colleague and honored to call him my friend.
— Yo-Yo Ma
“Renaissance man. But when does he sleep? Edith Eisler asks cellist Carlos Prieto about his astoundingly rich life as a performer, author, globe-trotter and tireless promoter of Latin composers”.
“Prieto knows no technical limitations. His musical instincts are impeccable”
— The New York Times
“We owe Prieto at least 50 percent of the Latin American repertoire for cello. He has already made a huge impact in the history of music.”
— Music Notes, Michigan State University
“Prieto is a cellist of high gifts and impressive technical command”.
— The Boston Globe
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´s 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).
He has played with orchestras from all over the world: the Royal Philharmonic in London, the Chamber Orchestra of the European Union, the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, the Boston Pops in Boston, the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of the European Union, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra, the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, the Irish National Orchestra, the MAV Budapest Orchestra, the Simón Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela and many others.
Remarkable is Carlos Prieto’s contribution to the cello repertoire. Since 1980 he has played the world premieres of over 100 compositions, most of which were written for him by the main composers from Mexico, Latin America, Spain and other countries.
He has recorded more than 90 compositions, including the complete Bach suites, works by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Boccherini, Fauré, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Kodaly, Bruch, Martinu, etc. In addition, he has recorded 13 CDs devoted specially, but not only, to cello music from Latin America and Spain which include the world premieres of many concertos and chamber works.
Prieto has written ten books: “Russian Letters”, “Around the World with the Cello”, “From the USSR to Russia”, “The Adventures of a Cello” – translated into English, Russian and Portuguese, “Paths and Images of Music”, “5000 Years of Words”, and “Throughout China with the Cello”, with a foreword by Yo-Yo Ma, “A Brief History of Music in Mexico”, “Dmitri Shostakovich, Genius and Drama”, and “My musical tours around the world. Music in Mexico and autobiographical notes”.
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. On his MIT 50th Reunion, he played the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto with the Boston Pops Orchestra in Symphony Hall.
France awarded him the Order of the Arts and Letters in the grade of Officer.
He received the Achievement Award of the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
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.”
The School of Music of Yale University honored him with the Cultural Leadership Citation.
He was awarded the Mozart Medal from the Austrian Ambassador in Mexico.
In 2004, he was appointed Member of the Fine Arts Advisory Council of the University of Texas at Austin.
In 2006, awarded title of “Master Emeritus of Venezuelan Youth” by J. A. Abreu, President and Founder of “El Sistema”, Caracas.
The King of Spain awarded him in 2006 the Order of Civil Merit
The President of Mexico awarded Mr. Prieto the 2007 National Prize for the Arts.
He received in 2008 the Pushkin Medal from the Russian Government for his contributions to Russian culture and arts.
In 2011 he was elected Member of the Academy of the Spanish Language, in recognition of his work as a writer.
In 2012 he received the Commendation for Distinguished Leadership in the Arts awarded by TCU (Texas Christian University).
In 2014 he received the Robert A. Muh Award in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at MIT. The Muh Award was established for the purpose of honoring MIT alumni who have made outstanding contributions in these fields.
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 Latin American cello music. The next competition will take place in Morelia, Mexico, in August, 2019.
In recent years, he played a series of memorable concerts with Yo-Yo Ma in Mexico, Caracas, New Orleans, Chicago, Spain, and Cuba.