Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the distinguished Spanish conductor who was a frequent guest at the Boston Symphony Orchestra and on podiums across North America, died Wednesday in a clinic in Pamplona, Spain. He was 80.
The conductor, the most prominent Spanish maestro of the day, had announced just last week that he was ceasing all professional activities because of cancer.
Until that point, he had held the position of chief conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, but that was only the most recent in a succession of positions he held in the course of a six-decade conducting career, including directorships of the Spanish National Orchestra (1962-1978) and for the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1992-1997).
While Spain as a mythical land of music loomed large in the imaginations of many composers, from Bizet to Rimsky-Korsakov, Spanish conductors have been a less common sight on the world’s stages.
Mr. Frühbeck de Burgos was the most visible and widely admired Spanish maestro of his generation, and he wore his national ties proudly. Born to German and Spanish parents as Rafael Frühbeck, he later added the name of his birthplace, Burgos, in northern Spain, as a way of signaling his own Spanish roots on the international stage.
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