The Spanish conductor and composer died in Pamplona today, he was 80. Born Rafael Frühbeck Frühbeck to a Spanish mother and German father (he adopted his professional name by including his place of birth), he began playing the violin aged seven. He studied at Madrid University, leaving at 19 for military service, and once in the army found himself conducting a military band. He later entered the Hochschule für Musik in Munich where he won the Richard Strauss Prize. He then took up a role with the Bilbao Orchestra, shortly after joining the National Symphony Orchestra in Madrid and in 1966 the Dusseldorf Symphony (until 1971).
His conducting positions include heading the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1975-76), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (1980-83), Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1991-96), Rundfunkorchester Berlin (1994-2000), Deutsche Oper Berlin (1992-97), RAI National Symphony Orchestra (2002-07), Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra (2004-11) and Danish National Symphony Orchestra (2012-14). He was a frequent guest in the US and conducted the Boston SO on 133 occasions and the Philadelphia 150 times; his last conducting appearance was with Washington DC's National Symphony Orchestra in March. Last week he stepped down from the Danish NSO, revealing he was suffering from cancer and he also announced his retirement from conducting.
His recorded extensively during the late 1960s and 1970s, often for EMI, where his discography includes highly praised sets of Bizet's Carmen (with Grace Bumbry), Mendelssohn's Elijah, Orff's Carmina burana, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé. For Decca he recorded a lot of Spanish repertoire including Albéniz's Suite española in his own orchestration and a notable disc of Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain with Alicia de Larrocha. For Collins Classics he recorded the Beethoven symphonies with the LSO.