Versatile and adventurous are two adjectives that might best define the career of conductor Arturo Tamayo, owing mainly to the vast range and daring nature of his repertory. With his conducting activities split between the concert hall and opera house, he has led works in both realms from all periods and styles, from Baroque to contemporary, from traditional to avant-garde. Thus, one might find him conducting works by J.S. Bach and Berio in concert, or Mozart and Wolfgang Rihm in the opera house. Despite the appearance of a balance in his repertory, however, he has decidedly favored 20th century and contemporary music especially in his discography. Indeed, the names Auric, Honegger, Busoni, Cage, Morton Feldman, Xenakis, Bruno Maderna, and Maurice Ohana are prominent among many others from the modern era. In fact, Tamayo has devoted much attention to the orchestral music of the latter trio, conducting five discs of Xenakis' music and three each of Maderna's and Ohana's. He has regularly conducted throughout Europe and Japan and appeared at a host of major opera houses, including Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, Opera Comique in Paris, Teatro Real in Madrid, Rome Opera House, and many others. Tamayo has recorded for Capriccio, Claves, BIS, Timpani, and several other labels.
Arturo Tamayo was born in Madrid, Spain, on August 3, 1946. He studied music at the Madrid Conservatory, but was initially undecided about his career path, as he also simultaneously studied law at the Complutense University of Madrid. He eventually abandoned pursuit of a career in law and after graduation from the Conservatory, had further studies in conducting in Basel with Pierre Boulez and in Vienna with Witold Rowicki. Tamayo also studied composition at the Freiburg Musikhochschule with Klaus Huber and Wolfgang Fortner.
From 1979-1998 he served as professor of 20th century music at the Freiburg Musikhochschule. During this period he worked much of the time outside his native Spain, guest-conducting such European orchestras as the Orchestre Nationale de France, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Radio Symphony Orchestras of Berlin, Franfurt, Vienna, Stuttgart, and Bavaria, and countless other ensembles. But he made many high-profile appearances in Spain, as well, including leading the 1995 performance of Verdi's Stiffelio in Madrid, with Plácido Domingo and Veronica Villarroel. Tamayo was regularly introducing new works, too, as with his November 2001 premiere of Klaus Huber's opera Schwarzerde (1997-2001) at the Basel Opera House.
In 2002 Tamayo received the prestigious Spanish National Performance Award. He remains active in the new century with many guest-conducting appearances both in the concert hall and opera house. He also lectures in conducting at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in Madrid. But it has been in the recording studio that Tamayo has been most conspicuous in the 21st century, turning out a string of albums for several labels, including at least seven discs in the period of 2009-2011, among them volumes 1-3 of the orchestral works of Bruno Maderna, on Neos.