Maestro Frühbeck leading a Philadelphia Orchestra rehearsal in 1979. Photo by Louis Hood
The Philadelphia Orchestra family is saddened today by the passing last evening of Maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, a great friend of the Orchestra and a musician of exemplary standards. Maestro Frühbeck made his U.S. debut with the Orchestra on Valentine’s Day in 1969 and became a regular presence on the Orchestra’s podium, often for multi-week residencies. His continued presence over a 40-year span is unmatched by any other guest conductor or artist in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s history. In fact, last season we celebrated his 150th performance with the Orchestra in Philadelphia—and that did not include the numerous performances he led in Saratoga, NY, or with the Orchestra on tour. He had a special relationship with our musicians, who revered and respected his leadership. Philadelphia audiences and audiences wherever he conducted, were always thrilled by his concerts. The breadth of repertoire he conducted was truly astounding, from Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, to Ravel, Bartók, Hindemith, and beloved composers from his native Spain such as Turina, Rodrigo, and Falla, among others. He held a deep connection to the legacy and history of this Orchestra, and for that reason he will be remembered as an important part of this institution.
While we mourn his passing at the age of 80, we celebrate the great friendship and musical collaboration we shared with him for almost half a century. His legacy will live on in the many notable recordings he made, and in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to participate in or witness his magical music-making.
Maestro Frühbeck was scheduled to return to the podium in Philadelphia March 12-14, 2015, for performances of Beethoven and Falla—two composers that were especially brilliant in his hands. A substitute conductor and appropriate tributes to his memory will be announced at a later date.
Our hearts and thoughts are with Maestro Frühbeck’s family.