In Memoriam Erich Kunzel

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 - 01:55 PM

Erich Kunzel, long-time conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, died a year ago, at the age of 74. Kunzel wasn’t just Cincinnati’s conductor -- for nearly two decades, he led the National Symphony Orchestra in A Capitol Fourth and Memorial Day concerts on the lawn of the Capitol Building that were broadcast around the country on PBS.

In late April 2009, Erich Kunzel was diagnosed with three kinds of cancer. Despite his indomitable will, by late summer, it became apparent that some kind of tribute would be in order. So I started interviewing people he’d worked with: Dave Brubeck, Frederica von Stade, Doc Severinsen, Michael Feinstein, Keith Lockhart, John Morris Russell -- plus members of the orchestra and his production team. They all had riotous (and occasionally touching) tales to tell about a man who combined Pierre Monteux-trained musicianship with P.T. Barnum showmanship.  

Weaving those stories with tracks from Kunzel’s 100-plus recordings with the Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Symphony (same musicians, different jackets), I produced a two-hour program called The Spectacular Legacy of Erich Kunzel, which just won the 2010 Clarion Award for Radio Documentary. Click on the "Listen" link above to hear the full program.

I hope the maestro would be pleased.


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Comments [9]

Fred --

You and all other Kunzel fans can listen to the entire program by clicking on the word "Listen" at the top of the post.

Sep. 06 2010 10:23 AM

Didn't have the opportunity to hear the Kunzel tribute, but he will definitely be missed from the music scene with both his classical and semi-classical recordings. FIEDLER, KUNZEL! WHO WILL BE THE NEXT "POP" REPLACEMANT?

Sep. 04 2010 12:27 PM

Kunzel did more for orchestras in the last 30 years than anyone I know. He is second only to Fiedler in his influence.

Great piece, Naomi!

Sep. 03 2010 11:16 AM
Alan Polinsky from Brooklyn

What a wonderful tribute to Mr. Kunzel. I have several of his recordings that he made for Telarc. They are fun to listen to but show real musicianship. I wish more conductors would follow his example, rather than searching for obscure, barely listenable modern pieces.

Sep. 02 2010 10:24 AM

THANKS Naomi.....your a Champ!....(and besides, ending your program with''Stars & Stripes' wasn't for the was really for me....)

Sep. 01 2010 09:20 PM
Larry from jersey of course

Congratulations for the 2009 Clarion Award, Naomi.

I do want to say, you used our pledge money to redesign this website and "politicize" it.

That's unfortunate, becaue politics is poison to the arts.

Sep. 01 2010 07:07 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Maestro Erich Kunzel, with his background and performance scheduling remarkably mirrored the careers of Maestro Arthur Fiedler, Maestro Walter Damrosch, Maestro Louis Damrosch, Maestro Goldman of Goldman Band fame, Maestro & OPERA and marches composer John Philip Sousa, Maestro Creatore and his Creatore Band and Johann Strauss, Sr & Jr [ the father of the waltz & the father of the Waltz King]. ALL had classical training, yet strove to gain a wider audience for the music they loved to compose and of other composers, to perform.

Sep. 01 2010 05:55 PM


Of course, Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever is included in the program, but if you listen to it, you'll see why I put something else at the end. I hope you enjoy it!

Sep. 01 2010 04:17 PM

A true American classic and as patriotic as can be! Watching Mr. Kunzel conduct was always exciting to say the least. And his spirit made any July 4th concert outstanding! ( In his memory.....I hope you ended your program with '' Stars & Stripes Forever'')

Sep. 01 2010 02:22 PM

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