Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1933-2014)

The Spanish conductor has died, aged 80

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Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra up until he retired last week, has died at the age of 80 after being diagnosed with cancer.

Over a career of more than 50 years, de Burgos became one of Spain’s most celebrated conductors. He worked with many orchestras around the world, including the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also held positions at the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo and the Dresden Philharmonic among others.

De Burgos was a champion of Spanish music, conducting the works of famous and lesser-known composers alike. A humble conductor, he preferred to tailor his gestures to the orchestra rather than the audience.

Born in Burgos, Spain to German parents as Rafael Frühbeck, he took the name of his birthplace when conducting the Bilbao Orchestra in France. He embarked on his music studies aged seven, when he was encouraged to take up the violin.

Among his most celebrated recordings are those of Mozart’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and his 1965 recording of Orff’s Carmina Burana, which is still considered a classic.

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos is survived by Maria, his wife, and their two children.

Jamie Maule

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