I thought Xmas music fans might want to know that Erich Kunzel has passed away. Learned about this via the CHFB:
Erich Kunzel dies at 74
Erich Kunzel, 74, Cincinnati's music man for more than 44 years, has died.
Orchestra members learned today that Kunzel died this morning at a
hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine, near his home on Swan's Island.
memorial services was not immediately available.
The Pops maestro is survived by his wife of 44 years, Brunhilde. The
couple's homes are in Newport, Ky.; Naples, Fla.; and Swan's Island.
"The world has lost a musical giant and we have lost a dear friend,"
said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra President Trey Devey in a statement
released today by the orchestra. "Erich Kunzel built the Cincinnati
Pops into one of the best known orchestras in the world and is not only
Cincinnati, but around the globe. Today we honor his tremendous legacy
and offer our deepest sympathies to Brunhilde and their entire family."
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague Erich
Kunzel," said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Paavo Järvi
in the same
statement. "He was a remarkable spirit and a tremendous musician. His
many years of music making with the Cincinnati Pops brought joy to
millions, and I join with our community in Cincinnati as well as his
fans around the world in mourning the loss of this great musical icon."
The Cincinnati Pops has launched a special memorial Web page where
the public is encouraged to view photos from Kunzel's career, as well
as post tributes
and remembrances. The link can be found at www.cincinnatipops.org.
The Pops is also accepting
cards and notes for Mr. Kunzel's family at the organization's Music
Hall office located at 1241 Elm Street in Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202.
The orchestra's board of directors met in a special session this
morning and unanimously conferred upon Kunzel the title of founder and
Kunzel's final public appearance was with his own Cincinnati Pops
Orchestra at Riverbend Music Center on Aug. 1, to conclude the 25th
of the outdoor venue that he and the orchestra had christened in 1984.
Although he was visibly thinner and only able to conduct half of
that night's concert, Kunzel didn't disappoint the thousands of fans
who turned out to
see him one last time.
"Hey, I made it!" he told the audience that night.
To Kunzel, the audience always came first. In the more than four
decades that he worked with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and three
decades since the
Pops was founded, Kunzel made the Cincinnati Pops internationally
He also was an avid Cincinnati booster at every opportunity. His
national and international tours, 10 million recordings sold and eight
with the Pops put the city's name before the world.
He was one of the busiest maestros on the planet and kept a
whirlwind schedule that could tire his staff members as they struggled
to keep up with his
grandiose plans. In more than 50 years of music-making, only one thing
could slow him down - the cancer that took his life.
He was stunned when he learned on April 29 that he had cancer of
the pancreas, liver and colon, because, he told The Enquirer in July,
supposed to happen. It wasn't on the schedule."
In 2005, he led the Cincinnati Pops on its historic tour to China,
the first American pops orchestra to tour the mainland. Last summer, he
returned to Beijing,
to lead the orchestra in concerts at the Summer Olympics, the only
American orchestra invited to do so. He later called the invitation
"the highlight of
Kunzel made the Cincinnati Pops "the people's orchestra" by taking
it out of Music Hall and into the region's public parks. For 38 years,
tens of thousands of fans throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana enjoyed
their first orchestral experience, listening to Kunzel perform "Star
Strauss waltzes and the "1812 Overture" as they sat on picnic blankets
and lawn chairs.
He was a tireless champion for the new School for Creative &
Performing Arts, nearing completion in Over-the-Rhine. It is only by
the sheer force of his
magnetism and influence that the nation's first K-12 performing arts
public school will welcome students in the fall of 2010.
Ultimately, Kunzel was a showman, a maestro who refined the art of
"razzle dazzle," from his weekly Music Hall concerts to stages around
In 1965, Kunzel, a young assistant conductor of the Cincinnati
Symphony Orchestra under Max Rudolf, took over the Eight O'clock Pops
nation's first pops subscription series in winter. The series in Music
Hall became one of the best-attended in the country.
One of his hallmarks was to include Cincinnati talent on the
concert stage, including children's choruses, cloggers and musical
theater students from the
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
By the '70s, Kunzel's orchestral pops career had zoomed, and he was
in demand from the Hollywood Bowl to the Boston Pops. In 1977, the
Symphony trustees established the Cincinnati Pops, made up of members
of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and named Kunzel its conductor.
For the last two decades, Kunzel had led PBS' nationally televised
July Fourth and Memorial Day concerts, conducting the National Symphony
Orchestra on the
lawn at the U.S. Capitol.
In 2006, Kunzel was awarded the National Medal of Arts in a White
House ceremony, the nation's highest honor awarded to artists. He was
one of five artists
chosen this year to be inducted into the American Classical Music Hall
of Fame, which has headquarters in Cincinnati.
Kunzel began his conducting career in the opera pit. A month after
he graduated in 1957 from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., he made
his professional debut
conducting Pergolesi's opera "La Serva Padrona," in the first season of
Santa Fe Opera. Kunzel also conducted the chorus for Igor
Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," and recalled meeting the composer.
Kunzel made his Cincinnati Opera debut in 1966, conducting "La Traviata," "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci."
"In my cast for Cavalleria was Martina Arroyo as Santuzza and a
young Spanish tenor by the name of Placido Domingo," he recalled in a
interview. "So many people liked to see (singers like) Roberta Peters,
Beverly Sills and Sherrill Milnes. Norman Treigle came back every year.
He was a
big Cincinnati favorite. This (Cincinnati) was the only summer company
in the United States, until Santa Fe."
As a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music from 1966 through 1972, Kunzel taught
orchestral conducting and was the
director of the CCM Philharmonia From 1966 to 1968.
He conducted many of the operas directed by opera legend Italo
Tajo, who chaired the opera department, including "Prince Igor," which
opening of the Corbett Auditorium in 1967-68. Together, Tajo and Kunzel
created opera at CCM as it is known today.
In recent years, he led "The Merry Widow" with San Francisco Opera,
which aired on BBC Worldwide and PBS' "Great Performances" in 2004,
and he made his Viennese debut conducting "The Sound of Music" with
Vienna's Volksoper in 2005.
He might have stayed in opera, had legendary pops conductor Arthur
Fiedler not invited him to guest conduct the Boston Pops in 1970.
Kunzel was born in New York in 1935 to German immigrant parents. He
trained as a classical conductor. After graduating from Dartmouth, he
earned a master's
of arts degree at Brown University, and continued graduate work at
He studied for seven summers with Pierre Monteux and was his conducting assistant.
When he arrived in Cincinnati in 1965, Kunzel was learning by fire
when Max Rudolf handed him the Eight O'clock Pops, so green, he'd never
heard of his
first star, jazz great Dave Brubeck.
Back then, only Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops set the standard
for programming light classics. Taking the concept a step further,
Kunzel recruited major
jazz stars for his Cincinnati Pops shows, including Ella Fitzgerald,
Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, when virtually none of them was
performing with symphony
He had, said trumpeter and former Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen, "a vision that grew."
Kunzel ultimately replaced Fiedler as the country's most well-known
pops conductor, and became a mentor to a new generation, including the
Keith Lockhart and Steven Reineke, conductor-designate of the New York
In 1978, Kunzel's Telarc recordings were launched with the now-historic digital recording of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."
His prolific Broadway and Hollywood-themed recordings, as many as
four per year in some years, began driving his Music Hall programs. It
wasn't long before
the nation's orchestras began to follow Kunzel's formula.
Kunzel was known as an excellent arranger, and he adapted many film
scores for the Cincinnati Pops. One of those consisted of all six
episodes of the
"Star Wars" saga, composed by John Williams and arranged into a musical
suite for a Riverbend performance.
The show attracted "Star Wars" fans, who arrived in their Darth Vader, Luke and Leia costumes from all over the galaxy.
Over the years, he built his own empire with the Cincinnati Pops.
His concerts were extravaganzas with laser lights, indoor fireworks,
huge American flags hung
low over the orchestra, large casts of singers and dancers and
sometimes shamelessly corny kitsch, including live animals, clogging
kids, a trumpet-playing
robot and musicians in Halloween costumes.
Even in tough economic times, he managed to pack Music Hall, one of
the largest concert halls in the world, week after week. It remains one
best-attended pops series in the nation.