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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / Erich Kunzel

Conductor of Cincinnati Pops

September 03, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Erich Kunzel, 74, the award-winning conductor who headed the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra since it was founded three decades ago, died Tuesday at a hospital near his home in Swan's Island, Maine, a Cincinnati Pops spokesman said.

Kunzel was diagnosed with liver, colon and pancreatic cancer in April but continued conducting while undergoing treatment.

On July 4, Kunzel conducted a concert at the U.S. Capitol with Aretha Franklin. He had led the National Symphony on the Capitol lawn in nationally televised Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts since 1991.

Kunzel was a guest conductor with the L.A. Philharmonic from 1983 to 1991 and also led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops in many performances.

Born March 21, 1935, in New York City, Kunzel was educated at Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown universities and began his professional conducting career in 1957 with the Santa Fe Opera. He went to Cincinnati in 1965 as assistant conductor. The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was officially established in 1977 with Kunzel as conductor.

Kunzel received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush in 2006 and was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

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