José Antonio Abreu Anselmi (1939- ) is a Venezuelan orchestra conductor, pianist, economist, educator, activist, and politician. In 2009, he received the Latin Grammy Trustees Award. He graduated as an Economist and PhD, studying Petroleum Economics. He was a Deputy in the Venezuelan Congress for 5 years. After politics, he was a professor of economics and law. Later, he was Minister of Culture and president of the National Council of Culture, however, disillusionment and health issues led him to leave politics and study music, concentrating on piano, organ, harpsichord and composition. In 1975 he founded ElSistema, the Foundation for the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela. This was an innovative program subsequently replicated elsewhere, which used music to stimulate social and intellectual improvement. El Sistema has engaged in exchange and cooperation programs with Canada, Spain, Latin American countries and the United States.
Music has to be recognized as an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values - solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.