Paloma O'Shea Artiñano

Paloma O’Shea was born in 1936 in Bilbao, where she lived throughout her childhood and youth. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano at the Conservatory of Bilbao and furthered her music studies in France. Later on, she married the banker Emilio Botín and moved to Santander, where she rose a large family, and shortly started her professional activity, dedicating herself to the task of developing the talent of young musicians and bringing music closer to everyone.

In 1972, she created the Santander International Piano Competition, which in no time become a renowned competition. She soon realized the need to work in the musical education field, as the disadvantages of the Spanish musicians were quite evident with respect to their European colleagues.

This awareness led to the establishment in 1991 of a permanent musical educational center of the highest international level: the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid. To achieve this, Paloma O’Shea received the advice of musicians as important as Mstislav Rostropovich, Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, and Alicia de Larrocha. In addition, Her Majesty Queen Sofía, gave her name and her full support to the project.

Since the beginning, the Reina Sofía School has had the privilege of having the best professors in each department, and thus, the most talented students worldwide. At present, its 150 students come from 30 different countries. All of them enjoy tuition scholarships, and those who need further assistance are also granted accommodation and instrument scholarships.

Today, the School is considered one of the most important music teaching institutions in Europe and one of the reasons of the growing level of almost all orchestras in Spain. The repercussion and importance of Paloma O’Shea’s activities have been recognized with a large number of distinctions, both in Spain -Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts- and abroad: French Legion of Honor, Gold Medal of the Spanish Institute in New York, UNESCO Picasso Medal, just to name a few. In 2008, His Majesty King Juan Carlos named her Marchioness of O’Shea.