Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Frühbeck and the second or maternal family name is Frühbeck.

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (born Rafael Frühbeck; 15 September 1933, Burgos, Spain – 11 June 2014, Pamplona, Spain[1][2]) was a Spanish conductor and composer.


As a youth, he studied violin, piano, and composition at the conservatories of Bilbao and Madrid. He first took up conducting while on military service in the Spanish Army.[3] He graduated summa cum laude from the Hochschule für Musik in Munich in conducting and won the Richard Strauss Prize. He subsequently took the professional surname Frühbeck de Burgos as his artist name, which includes the name of his city of birth.

Frühbeck de Burgos served as music director of the Rundfunkorchester Berlin, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the Bilbao Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony. He also was principal guest conductor for various orchestras in Europe, Japan, and the United States, including the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, DC from 1980 to 1988.[4] He made his American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in February 1969.[5] From 1980–1983, he was principal conductor of Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo, of which he was later named honorary conductor.

From 2001 to 2007, Frühbeck de Burgos was principal conductor of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra. He became music director of the Dresden Philharmonic in 2004. In January 2011, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Frühbeck de Burgos as the Creative Director of its Masterworks Series of concerts, starting with the 2011-12 season.[6]

In February 2011, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Frühbeck de Burgos as its next principal conductor, as of the 2012-2013 season, with an initial contract of 3 years through 2015.[7] However, on 4 June 2014, he resigned as chief conductor of the orchestra, effective immediately.[8][9]

Frühbeck de Burgos announced in parallel his retirement from conducting, and disclosed his cancer.[4] His final concert as a conductor was in Washington, DC on 14 March 2014, with the National Symphony Orchestra.[4][10] He recorded on a number of labels, where his recordings include Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah (oratorio), the Mozart Requiem, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, and Georges Bizet's Carmen. He was known as well for his recording of the complete works of Manuel de Falla and a series of complete zarzuela recordings. Frühbeck orchestrated a suite from Isaac Albéniz's Suite española and conducted the New Philharmonia Orchestra in a commercial recording of this arrangement.

Frühbeck de Burgos' work in contemporary music has included conducting the world premiere production of Gian Carlo Menotti's opera Goya.[11] He was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts and History Institución Fernán González. His honours include the 2011 "Conductor of the Year" award from Musical America.[4]

Just a week before his death, he announced that he would cease all professional activities due to cancer. Frühbeck de Burgos died on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in Pamplona, Spain at the age of 80.[12]


  1. ^ Amón, Rubén (11 June 2014). "Muere Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, patriarca de todos los directores de orquesta de España". El Mundo. Retrieved 11 June 2014.  (Spanish)
  2. ^ "Mor el director d'orquestra Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos als 80 anys". El Periodico. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.  (Catalan)
  3. ^ Lebrecht, Norman (11 June 2014). "Sad news: Spain's greatest maestro has died". Slipped Disc. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Anne Midgette (5 June 2014). "After faltering, conductor steps down". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos to Lead His 150th Performance of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia" (Press release). Philadelphia Orchestra. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "CSO Announces 2011-2012 Season", Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (30 January 2011).
  7. ^ "The Danish National SO goes for experience". Gramophone. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  8. ^ Nicolai Michelsen (6 June 2014). "DR Symfoniorkestret mister chefdirigenten". Danish Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Mellor, Andrew (4 June 2014). "Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos resigns from Danish National Symphony Orchestra". Gramophone. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Philip Kennicott (14 March 2014). "Conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos finishes concert despite apparent health issue". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Donal Henehan (17 November 1986). "Menotti's 'Goya' in Washington Premiere". New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos - obituary

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
(no predecessor)
Principal Conductor, RAI National Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Juraj Valčuha
Preceded by
Thomas Dausgaard
Principal Conductor, Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
(post vacant)