1. Son of a trombonist, Dudamel was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, on Jan. 26, 1981. He began studying the violin at age 10.
2. Early on, he became involved with one of the world's most remarkable music-education programs, the National System of Children and Youth Orchestras of Venezuela. Known as "El Sistema (The System)," it was founded in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, a composer, conductor, economist and former deputy in the Venezuelan Congress.
3. Dudamel's conducting teachers included Abreu and Charles Dutoit.
4. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen (who preceded him as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) once described Dudamel as "a conducting animal." Born to conduct, in other words.
5. Music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2009, he is married to Eloísa Maturén, a ballet dancer and journalist, also from Venezuela.
Bonus factoid: Dudamel is music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, the flagship orchestra of "El Sistema."