This story is part of a Hispanic Heritage Month collaboration with Voces Oral History Center based at UT-Austin’s Moody School of Communication.
Eduardo Mata was born in 1942 in Mexico City but grew up in the southern city of Oaxaca and took guitar lessons as a young boy. Soon, his love of music led him to enroll in Mexico’s prestigious National Conservatory of Music when he was 11-years-old.
At the conservatory, he learned composition. But it was clear that his true passion was in front of the orchestra as director. Mario Lavista, one of his classmates, recalled that Mata formed chamber performances with the most experienced students so that he could direct them.
From 1965 to 1974, Mata directed symphonies in Mexico – first in Guadalajara and then in Mexico City. In 1974, he was hired to conduct the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. Three years later, he became director of the Dallas Symphony.
But Victor Marshall, who was the former Dallas Symphony Orchestra Artistic Administrator, says the orchestra’s musicians were skeptical at first.
“They were worried like, “what if we don’t like this guy? What if he doesn’t work out?,'” Marshall said. “Well, as it turns out, it ended up being wildly successful.”
Mata brought new energy and vitality. He recorded more than 30 pieces with the orchestra and he introduced the Dallas Symphony to audiences throughout the world through concert performances.