Tania León

Short Bio of Tania León

Tania Justina León is a Cuban born pianist, conductor, composer, educator, and art organizer. During her career, she has accomplished achievements such as winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 and being a founding member of Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theater. León’s music is known to have classical, Caribbean, and other Latin influences in her music; creating a global sound for her audience. Even through the struggles that come with being an immigrant and a woman of color, León’s work brought her success in the United States where she has had historic marks.e


Tania León was born on May 14th, 1943 in Havana, Cuba. She began her artistic journey at the age of four as a pianist which eventually led to her being a student at the Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade Conservatory and receiving her B.A. in 1963. In hopes of becoming the global citizen that she is today, she left Cuba in 1967 with a program for Cubans searching for refuge called, Freedom Flight to Miami. Soon after, she made her way to New York City where she continued to study while on scholarship at New York University. 

In 1967, an unexpected shift happened in her career. At this point, León would soon go from pianist to becoming a composer and arts organization advisor. Arthur Mitchell who was the first Black principal at the New York Ballet sought for León to join his journey in establishing his company. Tania León become one of the founding members of his dance theatre where she served the role of the first musical director which resulted in the creation of a music department, music school, and orchestra at the historic Arthur Mitchell Dance Theater. 

Tania León's Work with Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theater

What inspires her music?

León comes from a mixed ancestry background and she credits that to be the reason that she views the world from a global perspective. She makes it a point to use music to express her cultural background. She is also known for using historical figures or events as her inspiration while writing. 



Orchestrial Compositions

Carlos Alfredo Peyrellado Conservatory, B.A., (1963), M.A., (1964)

New York University, B.S. (1971), M.S., (1975)

American Council for Emigres Award, 1971

Nation Endowment for the Arts Award, 1975

National Council of Women of the United States Achievement Award, 1980

New York State Council on the Arts Award, 1988

New York University Award for Distinguished Alumni, 1994

Chamber Music America Commission Award, 1995

American Music Center Letter of Distinction, 1997

New York State Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998

New York State Council on the Arts, 2000

Arts International Award, 2002

Pulitzer Prize Orpheus Nomination. “Acana” for Orchestra, 2008

U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain, 2008

Pulitzer Prize nomination (for Acana), 2009-10

Latin Grammy Nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, 2012

Pulitzer Prize for Music, 2021

*This is just a short list of the many awards León as earned*



Concerto Criollo, piano, solo timpani and orchestra



Kabiosile, piano and orchestra

Para Viola y Orquesta, solo viola and orchestra



Through her work as a musician, educator, arts advocate, and many other titles, León has had a beautiful and impactful career and her work should not go unnoticed. This is just a short glimpse of the work done by León but I encourage you to explore further on her work. 

More from Tania León


(n.d.). Tania León. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.tanialeon.com

Blackwood, M., & Oteri, F. J. (n.d.). Tania León. Wikipedia. Retrieved 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tania_Le%C3%B3n

Fowler, D. (n.d.). Tania León — ‘Where Are You In This Music?’ Steinway. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.steinway.com/news/features/tania-leon–where-are-you-in-this-music

León, T. (n.d.). Stride, by Tania León (Peermusic Classical). The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.pulitzer.org/winners/tania-leon

León, Tania 1943–. (n.d.). Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/leon-tania-1943

Robin, W. (2020, February 7). A Composer Puts Her Life in Music, Beyond Labels (Published 2020). The New York Times. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/arts/music/tania-leon-new-york-philharmonic.html

Tania León: Indígena – New World Records. (n.d.). New World Records. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.newworldrecords.org/products/tania-leon-indigena

Team. (n.d.). Composers Now. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.composersnow.org/cn/about/staff/

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