Jaime Mendoza-Nava was born on December 1, 1925, in La Paz, Bolivia, where he received his early musical training. Recognized as a child prodigy, he quickly won the admiration and respect of audiences and musicians alike with his unique compositions and orchestrations. At the young age of seven, he led a memorable concert that raised funds for the construction of an orphanage. He later pursued his musical studies in Buenos Aires, at New York's Juilliard School of Music, at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid, with Nadia Boulanger, Alfred Cortot and at the Sorbone in Paris. Majoring in composition in Madrid, he completed the five-year course in study within one year and obtained the Conservatory's First Prize in 1950. After conducting the Madrid and Lima Symphony Orchestras, he became the music director and conductor of the Bolivian National Symphony Orchestra. In this post, he introduced to his native country important symphonic and chamber works from the modern repertoire and furthered the course of Bolivian national music.
He also initiated the orchestra's first national tour in which he made music accessible to the diverse regions of the country. He was a member of the Congres de l'Olimpiade International de Musique in Salzburg and attended its second session in Pasadena, California.
After moving to Los Angeles, California, he pursued his interest in motion pictures and became a member of the Walt Disney Studios music department. There he scored music for television programs such as Zorro and the Mickey Mouse Club. Later he became the music director for United Productions of America, producers of the Mr. Magoo Cartoon series and soon after he launched an independent film post production company. During his forty-year career in motion pictures, he composed music for more than three hundred feature motion pictures, television series episodes, animated pieces, documentaries, and commercials. He recorded with some of Hollywood's greatest studio musicians and with the Munich Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Mendoza-Nava has worked with the pentatonic native music of the Andes in many of his compositions, exploring its tonal possibilities and its powerful native rhythms. His Tres Danzas Bolivianas for piano are a good example of the modern treatment of the melody of this music. His Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Don Alvaro (a symphonic poem), and Gitana for piano are more universal in style, though traces of an Hispanic influence are noticeable. Other important compositions include Serenade to an Orchid for Cello and Orchestra and the symphonic poems Antawara and Pachamama.
Most recently, a collection of Mr. Mendoza-Nava's vocal works was premiered in La Paz, Bolivia through the support of the Music Society and Ms Sarah Ismael. During last year's Music festival, sponsored by the National Conservatory of Music (La Paz, Bolivia), piano virtuoso, Grace Rodriguez and other Bolivian musicians performed several of his works including his violin concerto entitled, Contrasts, as part of a homage to his music.
Mr. Mendoza-Nava passed away on May 31, 2005 in Woodland Hills, California. He is survived by his wife of forty-seven years, Billie Johanna Mendoza, five children and four grandchildren.