Creator of Venezuelan youth orchestras Abreu dead at 79

CARACAS, Venezuela — Jose Antonio Abreu, the government economist turned musical educator who created Venezuela’s network of youth orchestras that has been replicated in dozens of countries around the world, died Saturday. He was 79.

His death was announced by the newspaper El Universal, where his brother, Jesus Abreu, is president. No cause was given, but Abreu had been known to be battling several illnesses ever since he retired from El Sistema, as the musical education program is known, a few years ago.

Abreu was the teacher to generations of Venezuelan classical music performers. His most famous protege was Gustavo Dudamel, musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.