Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Ailing, Retires from Conducting

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - 06:00 PM

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Spanish conductor whose worldwide career has included numerous appearances with the New York Philharmonic, announced on Wednesday his immediate retirement from the concert stage, including resignation from his post as chief conductor of the Danish National Symphony.

The 80-year-old conductor, who has been beset with health problems in recent months, wrote in a statement released by his manager at Columbia Artists Management: "After meeting with my doctors I have come to the following conclusion: I have to recognize publicly that I have cancer and that in this state of health and with deep sorrow I am not able to conduct at my standards and the moment to quit professional matters has come."

Frühbeck de Burgos has been hospitalized for months at a clinic in Pamplona, sources close to his family told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

On March 14, Frühbeck de Burgos fainted during a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. That was his last concert. Prior to that, he has been notably active, having last appeared in New York with the New York Philharmonic in December, when he led a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 and Strauss's Ein Heldenleben.

Below: Frühbeck de Burgos conducts music from Bizet's Carmen [Youtube].

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Comments [6]

Reverend Bulworth from Northern Westchester

I have been blessed to see him perform many times in the past few years both in Avery Fisher Hall and at Tanglewood. He is a MASTER of his craft and I am heartbroken to think that he might not regain the podium. Let's all pray that we see him at his post again soon and that he regains his health and vigor!

Jun. 06 2014 01:13 PM
Lewis Lipnick from Alexandria, Virginia

As a member of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC (contrabassoonist) for the past 43 years, I have had the pleasure of playing under Maestro Frühbeck's direction from very early in my career. Of all the conductors I have played for over my tenure, I learned more from Frühbeck about the practical aspects of ensemble playing which helped me mature into a seasoned professional. He always made the most complicated pieces so much easier to perform, such as Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps". The final sacrificial dance so often ends up being more of a scramble than a ballet. But with Frübeck, it was like falling off a log. No panic, no worries. We could always rely on his clear and concise direction. I will greatly miss making music with him; he is a great musician and wonderful human being.

Jun. 05 2014 07:41 PM
harold braun

A very,very sad day for music lovers around the world.I hope the maestro will recover soon and maybe,return to the stage when he has regained strenght again.

Jun. 05 2014 06:20 PM

I too send Maestro Frühbeck de Burgos all the best in his future. He is a revered conductor. I've journeyed to Boston and Washington to hear him conduct orchestras in addition to the NY Philharmonic. His retirement is sad news but we do have the memory of his concerts to help keep him in our thoughts and memory. May he have a strong recovery and be able to enjoy a long life in remission.

Jun. 05 2014 03:39 PM
Suzanne from New York

This is sad news, and fills this music-lover with feelings of poignancy and nostalgia. At the same time, I so admire Maestro Burgos for his practicality and integrity. He steps down upon recognizing that his illness prevents him from making music to his own exacting standards. I for one am grateful for the memories of hearing him conduct the NY Phil in recent seasons and wish him recovered health and enjoyment of life in his retirement.

Jun. 05 2014 11:07 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

The Maestro has also been a mainstay at Tanglewood for many years.

Jun. 05 2014 09:18 AM

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