Born in 1921, Jaime León was one of the greatest musicians and composers of Colombia. A vital figure in the development of Colombian art-music, León was a pianist, conductor, teacher, administrator and composer. He studied piano in Juilliard with Carl Friedberg and, later, conducting, first with Edgar Schenkman and then with Dean Dixon.

As a composer, he was largely self-taught, beginning as a musical exercise. His first songs appeared in 1951-2. Later he conducted the American Ballet Theatre, becoming well-known. The Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogota invited him back to Colombia to become the orchestra's full-time music director, a position which he held from 1971 until 1977. Living in Colombia for the rest of his life, he returned to composition. By 1992 he had written thirty-six songs based on Colombian and Ecuadorian poetry. During the 1990s he also conducted, judged music competitions and taught piano and conducting.