For Gustavo Dudamel, L.A. is a special place, as he has often reminded The Times
For more than a decade, Gustavo Dudamel galvanized the classical music scene in Los Angeles as the artistic director and conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic.
But come 2026, when his contract ends, the Venezuelan-born artist will trade his Los Angeles podium for another with the New York Philharmonic.
Dudamel, sometimes known as the “Dude,” made Los Angeles his home when he started his tenure in 2009. Throughout the years, he spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his love for his “adopted home” and his favorite local spots.
Here’s what Dudamel has had to say about the city of L.A. in multiple interviews dating back to 2008.
Gustavo Dudamel is set to leave the L.A. Phil at the end of his contract in 2026, when he will then take top post at the New York Philharmonic.
On what he would bring to the L.A. Phil
“There are many things, but I don’t like to speak about them,” he said in 2008. “Promises and promises are terrible, and this is something we’re very accustomed to in this modern world. I try to maintain what I’m doing and I try to protect the things I dream about. Only deeds are important.”
On living in Los Angeles
“Los Angeles is a very special city,” he told The Times in April 2010. “It’s a great ethnic mix, a great cultural mix, and because of this, it has captured me.”
“What pleases me in a site where I’m going to live, or spend a lot of time, is that it be a location where I can concentrate and where I can, in a certain manner, find an environment that inspires me,” he added.
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A look at the Encuentros, a youth orchestra with players from 22 countries making its U.S. debut at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday with Gustavo Dudamel.
On his favorite L.A. eats
“If I did go out for breakfast or lunch, I might go to the Village Coffee Shop in Beachwood Canyon,” he told the L.A. Times in July 2010. “It reminds me of what Southern California is all about. It’s in a great neighborhood, it’s close to the Hollywood sign and it’s near my house!
“One of my favorite restaurants for dinner is the Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel. It has a wonderful menu, a mixture of modern and traditional tapas.”
The Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday night may not have been a galaxy far, far away, but Holst’s “The Planets” and the premiere of an Icelandic violin concerto did give Gustavo Dudamel some musical and emotional distance from the tensions in his native Venezuela.
On his ideal weekend
“I usually like eating at my home in the Hollywood Hills, which reminds me of the hills back in Caracas,” Dudamel said in July 2010. “I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a year and have great views of this incredible city. Another good place for a view of Southern California is the Griffith Park Observatory. It also helps that it’s close to where I live and work.
“I always enjoy shopping at Amoeba Music on Sunset in Hollywood. It’s the most amazing record store. You can find almost anything you want and it’s open late, so I can pop in after a great movie at the ArcLight next door. My wife and I love going to movies there, especially the amazing Cinerama Dome.”
On performing at the Hollywood Bowl
“There needs to be repaired this paradigm that always existed, that classical music is for an elite, a select group of people,” he said in 2008. “I believe that we have the opportunity, with the Hollywood Bowl, with the programming of the Bowl, and now, well, that the orchestra can take on this problem directly.”
“I’m very happy always to work there,” Dudamel said in June 2013. “The atmosphere is unique.”
“The day of the welcoming was very beautiful. It will stay always in my heart,” Dudamel added of the “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” performances at the Bowl. “It was so beautiful to see such an amount of people coming to say ‘welcome.’”
The announcement of Gustavo Dudamel’s 2026 move to New York prompts reflection on his work with the L.A. Philharmonic. A story gallery.
“Having the chance to do operas — ‘Rigoletto,’ ‘Turandot,’ now ‘Aida’ — I think it’s great conditions to do that, in the space. It gives you the space to develop all these crazy ideas.”
“When they built the Hollywood Bowl there were not airplanes and helicopters around. Silence — it was more about that. Right now it’s a different city, it’s a different life. That is the thing of the Bowl: It adapts your life to the music.”
On the Walt Disney Concert Hall
In 2010, he said “the best place to hear music, I think it’s a tie between Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.”
“The Bowl is special to me because I made my U.S. debut there in 2005, and Disney Hall is special to me too, because I think it’s one of the most perfect places to play music in the world.”
On Los Angeles basketball teams
“¿Por qué no?,” Dudamel, an avid basketball fan, asked The Times in 2008 about rooting for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.
On returning to live shows in L.A. amid COVID-19
“Doing this was a discovery for me, completely new,” Dudamel said in October 2021. “I had to learn how to go back to the Hollywood Bowl.”
“But I think that is what makes you more mature. You learn the complete package, what it means to have a family at home or with the orchestra and to really take care of every single part of that. It had never been like that for me.”
“I am not the Gustavo of 2010, 2011, 2012, when I was guest conducting everywhere.”
Commentary: The New York Philharmonic hasn’t had a superstar in decades; now it’s getting Dudamel
What it means for Los Angeles and New York for Gustavo Dudamel to become head of the New York Philharmonic in 2026.
On conducting the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles
“I tell them, look, when you are walking on the street, you are normal people like everybody else,” he said in August 2022. “But you cannot imagine the power you have in your hands when you take an instrument and you play. You can transform the feeling of that person. People cry. People laugh. You are magicians.”
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