Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, an acclaimed guest conductor with orchestras worldwide, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, died June 11 in Pamplona, Spain. The Spanish-born conductor, who recently announced he would cancel all upcoming performances due to a cancer diagnosis, was 80.
“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,” Mr. Frühbeck said in the statement, released last week via the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
He also resigned his position as chief conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, where his contract ran until 2015.
The maestro appeared with the CSO, including subscription concerts in 2010 and 2007. He made his CSO debut in 1969 and returned in 1970, 1973 and 1975, along with CSO stints at the Ravinia Festival in 1970 and 1971. Earlier this year, he completed a string of guest conducting performances with U.S. orchestras, including the Washington National Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Just last year, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, he declared that he had no intention of retiring. “No, never,” he said. “I will continue until I drop. If I die on stage, so much the better.”
For an appreciation of the maestro, written by critic David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here.