The 60,000-euro prize is awarded every two years to a composer from a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country; this year 57 composers were considered by a jury led by Venezuelan conductor Jos_ Antonio Abreu.
Nobre has written works for orchestra, percussion ensemble, voice and guitar, cello ensemble and solo instruments. The jury chose him for his "marvelous creativity and the originality of his works," according to Europa Press.
Nobre was born in Brazil in 1939. He studied piano and music theory at the Conservatory of Music of Pernambuco, followed by composition studies at the Latin American Center in Buenos Aires with Ginastera, Messiaen, Malipiero, Copland and Dallapiccola. He also worked with Alexander Goehr and Gunther Schuller at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood.
The composer writes on his website that his "harmonic exploration is based on the belief that it is still possible to discover new harmonic possibilities, independent of twelve-tone technique and even of traditional tonality and consonance. I believe that the chromatic scale has not yet been totally explored and exhausted."
"The most important lesson I learnt," he continues on the site, "was finally understanding the great formal laws of the 18th- and 19th-century classic works, especially Haydn and Beethoven. Serial music, despite the richness of what it can offer, broke with this huge tradition by doing away with the basic principle of repetition, without really bringing to music any real substitute."
Previous prizewinners include the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge (1998) and Alfredo del M‹naco of Venezuela (2002); the previous laureate (2004) was Joan Guinjoan of Barcelona.