The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Acclaimed Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos dies at 80 of cancer.

June 13, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

The acclaimed Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos died on Wednesday. He was 80, and the cause of death was cancer that caused him to announce his retirement just a week ago. (He is seen below conducting The New York Philharmonic in a photo by Richard Termine of The New York Times.)

Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos NY PHil CR Richard Termine

The Ear gives credit to Wisconsin Public Radio and afternoon radio host Lori Skelton (below top), who, it seems, probably made a quick programming change and played a recording by him and the legendary Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha (below bottom, 1923-2009) of Manuel de Falla’s lushly quiet piano concerto-like tone poem “Nights in the Garden of Spain.”

Lori Skelton in studio

Alicia de Larrocha BIG at piano

It is refreshing to see arts events treated as newsy and important as, say, politics, sports and economics.

Plus, music by Manuel de Falla (below top) was a specialty of the conductor, as was other Spanish music, including works by Isaac Albeniz (below bottom). But he was also known for his interpretations of standard repertory, and led orchestras around the world to popular and critical acclaim. He also recorded many standard works for many different labels.

manuel de falla

Isaac Albéniz 1901

Here is a link to the background story and obituary on the outstanding Deceptive Cadence blog at NPR:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/06/11/320927999/rafael-fr-hbeck-de-burgos-versatile-spanish-conductor-dies-at-80

And here is a link to the obituary in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/12/arts/music/rafael-fruhbeck-80-dies-made-the-world-a-podium.html?_r=0

And here is a YouTube video in which the conductor discusses his family and personal history and in which you can hear him conduct music from Franz Schubert ‘s Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” and Manuel de Fall’s “La vida breve.”


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