He recorded Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" twice, first in the 1960s, with pianist Gonzalo Soriano, and again in the 1980s with pianist Alicia de Larrocha.

He is the most famous Spanish conductor of the twentieth century, and with collaborators such as pianist Alicia de Larrocha and soprano Victoria de los Ángeles, he has recorded the most famous classical works in the Spanish repertoire, such as Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain", "The Three-Cornered Hat", and the first complete stereo recording of Falla's opera, "La Vida Breve".

He studied music in Bilbao and at Madrid University, but left at 19 to undertake his military service. He won a competition to lead a military band, a three-year apprenticeship that influenced his conducting style.

He promoted well-known Spanish composers, such as de Falla, Albéniz, and Granados, as well as lesser-known compatriots, including the serialist composer Luis de Pablo.