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Pops maestro Erich Kunzel dies at 74

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stopbush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-01-09 07:30 PM
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Pops maestro Erich Kunzel dies at 74

Pops maestro Erich Kunzel dies at 74
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | 3:36 PM ET Comments1Recommend5
CBC News

Erich Kunzel has died at the age of 74.

Kunzel died in hospital near his home in Swan's Island, Maine, early Tuesday, according to an orchestra spokesperson.

"The world has lost a musical giant and we have lost a dear friend," Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra president Trey Devey said in a statement.

"Erich Kunzel built the Cincinnati Pops into one of the best known orchestras in the world and is not only beloved in Cincinnati, but around the globe. Today we honour his tremendous legacy."

Doctors had diagnosed the celebrated musician with liver, colon and pancreatic cancer in April. He continued conducting while undergoing cancer treatment.

His final appearance was on Aug. 1, when he mustered the strength to conduct the second half of a concert at Cincinnati's Riverbend Music Centre.

Following an emergency meeting Tuesday morning, the symphony's board posthumously conferred on Kunzel the title of founder and conductor emeritus.
Half-century career

Kunzel got his start in Cincinnati with the city's symphony orchestra in 1965. He rose through the ranks and was also named conductor of the fledgling pops orchestra when it was established in 1977, holding the position until his death.

The master showman brought widespread fame to his orchestra through recordings that sold millions of copies, and as host of TV specials and tours both national (from Carnegie Hall to the Grand Ole Opry) and international (including, in 2005, the first appearance of a pops orchestra in China).

His whirlwind schedule included fulfilling guest-conducting gigs worldwide, from Toronto to Tokyo. Since 1991, he'd also led the National Symphony's annual, televised Memorial Day and Fourth of July concerts presented on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Kunzel celebrated his 50th anniversary as a professional conductor during the 2007-2008 season. Honours presented to him over the years included several Grammy Awards, the 2006 National Medal of Arts and being inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

Kunzel is survived by his wife, Brunhilde.
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