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September 1, 2009

Eruch Kunzel, conductor of much-recorded Cincinnati Pops, dies at 74

Erich Kunzel, whose fame as a pops conductor came closer than anyone else to that of the legendary Arthur Fiedler, died Tuesday of cancer at the age of 74.

For more than 30 years, he led the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, a collaboration preserved on more than 100 recordings that have sold more than 10 million copies. Mr. Kunzel had an unmistakable gift for the pops idiom and a flair for communicating his enthusiasm. His talents reached a large TV audience thanks to the many Fourth of July concerts he conducted with the National Symphony Orchestra that were broadcast on PBS from the grounds of the US Capitol.

Here are some more details from Lisa Cornwell's obituary for the AP:

 

Kunzel was diagnosed with liver, colon and pancreatic cancer in April, but continued conducting while undergoing treatment. He died Tuesday morning at a hospital near his home in Swan's Island, Maine, said Chris Pinelo, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Pops.

On July 4, Kunzel conducted a concert at the U.S. Capitol with Aretha Franklin. He had led the National Symphony on the Capitol lawn in nationally televised Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts since 1991.

This year, he also conducted a concert in Beijing, where he and the Cincinnati Pops last year performed in opening festivities for the Summer Olympics.

Kunzel also led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops in many performances.

Born in New York City, Kunzel was educated at Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown universities and began his professional conducting career in 1957 with the Santa Fe Opera. He came to Cincinnati in 1965 as assistant conductor to Max Rudolph, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's former music director. The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was officially established in 1977 with Kunzel as conductor.

The Cincinnati classical pops ensemble has been one of the most active in the world, maintaining a year-round performing and recording schedule and making numerous television appearances. Kunzel recorded more than 125 albums and was named Billboard Magazine's Classical Crossover Artist of the Year for four consecutive years.

Kunzel received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush in 2006 for outstanding contributions to the arts and was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Kunzel is survived by his wife, Brunhilde.

Maintaining a crowded agenda at an energetic pace throughout his career, Kunzel told The Cincinnati Enquirer in an interview in July that he was stunned by his cancer diagnosis. "It wasn't on the schedule," he said.

AP PHOTO

Posted by Tim Smith at 4:31 PM | | Comments (0)
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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