Distinguished Spanish maestro loses his battle with cancer at 80.

The most successful Spanish conductor of his generation, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos has died at the age of 80. The maestro, who died in Pamplona, had been unwell for some months and had cancelled a number of engagements. Just a week before his death, he announced that he would cease all professional activities as a result of cancer.

Rafael Frühbeck was born on September 15, 1933 in Burgos, the Spanish city whose name he added to his own to create his professional title. He initially studied violin, piano, and composition in Bilbao and Madrid, only taking up conducting while doing his military service in the Spanish Army. He subsequently studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Munichwhere where he won the Richard Strauss Prize.

Among his many appointments over a 55-year career Frühbeck de Burgos was music director of the Rundfunkorchester Berlin, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the Bilbao Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony. He was principal guest conductor for many orchestras in Europe, Japan, and the United States. World premieres include conducting the first production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s...