The Washington Post

Ailing Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos cancels NSO performance

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the 80-year-old Spanish-born maestro who was scheduled to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra for three performances of Rachmaninoff and Respighi, withdrew from Saturday night’s performance because of health concerns.

National Symphony Orchestra spokeswoman Patricia O’Kelly said the maestro has a fever and symptoms of pneumonia and is under a doctor’s care. NSO assistant conductor Ankush Kumar Bahl led the orchestra in his place on Saturday.

Frühbeck’s poor health caused worry during Friday night’s performance when he “seemed to totter, alarming the musicians, some of whom stopped playing,” during Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” according to Washington Post critic Philip Kennicott. Kennicott noted that the maestro, who served as principal guest conductor of the NSO from 1980 to 1988, looked more frail than in other recent appearances with the NSO.

The musicians helped Frühbeck to a sitting position on the podium so that he could finish conducting the concert. Though visibly unwell, he stood for the final moments of the concert and acknowledged a heartfelt standing ovation.

The Kennedy Center noted that Bahl was in orchestra practices all week acting as “a pair of ears” in the house. Had Frühbeck needed to leave the stage during Friday’s performance, Bahl was prepared to finish the program.

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (Morten Abrahamsen)
Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read
Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.