Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos has resigned his position as Chief Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and signalled an immediate end to his conducting career. In a letter to the DNSO’s manager Kim Bohr sent on Monday, the 80-year-old Spaniard, who has been beset with health problems in recent months and cancelled a number of performances with the ensemble, wrote that ‘with great sadness I cancel all engagements with DR [the Danish Broadcasting Corporation]’. He added that, on doctors advice, ‘the time to wind-up my professional life has come.’
Frühbeck de Burgos took over the reigns of Denmark’s first broadcasting orchestra from Thomas Dausgaard in 2012 and was contracted to continue until at least 2016. He has been beset by health issues in the last few years and collapsed during a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington in March, but in typically stoical fashion elected to proceed, conducting the rest of the concert from a sitting position. Since then, de Burgos has cancelled a number of concerts with the DNSO. In today’s issue of Berlingske, the Danish daily’s music critic Søren Schauser talked of the conductor’s ‘visible tiredness’ following surgery in 2011 but added that he had been ‘one of the major successes of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s musical activities since his arrival.’
De Burgos’s withdrawal from the concert stage ends a career which saw him undertake successful stints at the helm of the Deutsche Opera Berlin, the same city’s Radio Symphony Orchestra, the RAI Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
‘Both the orchestra [DNSO] and I are deeply concerned’ Kim Bohr told Berlingske. But the search for de Burgos’s replacement begins immediately. While few would doubt the Spanish maestro’s contribution to the orchestra’s current form and popularity in Copenhagen – he proved instrumental in galvanizing audiences and attracting them in large numbers to Jean Nouvel’s new out-of-town concert hall – many will be hoping Bohr’s search for a successor will focus on conductors who will be able to build on that legacy while also demonstrating a willingness to promote and proliferate Danish music new and old, the central remit of DR’s flagship musical ensemble.