The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Erich Kunzel passes away

Erich Kunzel, founder and conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, died this morning (September 1, 2009) at a hospital near his home in Maine at the age of 74. He was diagnosed this past April with a particularly virulent form of cancer (pancreas, liver, and colon - needless to say the prognosis was not good.) He made his last appearance with the Pops at a concert on August 1, telling the audience, "Hey, I made it!" He will be missed.

In addition to his countless recordings on the Telarc label, many folks know him as the long-time conductor of nationally-televised Fourth of July and Memorial Day Concerts with the National Symphony Orchesta in Washington, DC. When I was growing up, perhaps the best-known figure in American Classical music was Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston Pops and their famous esplanade concerts on TV every Fourth of July. I suspect that for many Americans today, Kunzel may be one of the best known Classical musicians in the country. I loved the fact that he conducted more than just the standard repertoire - many recordings of lighter classics, movie soundtracks and such came our way over the years and still grace our library and our daily music programming. One of the most recent was a Telarc recording called "Masters and Commanders," featuring music from seafaring films such as "Captain Blood," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Sea Hawk," and others. It was a heckuva lot of fun, and we played quite a bit of it when it came out. But that's just one of many, and quite a legacy. We will continue to honor his memory every time we play his music, and I think that's just the way he'd like it.

God rest him.


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