Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Erich Kunzel, R.I.P.
From the Washington Post --
Erich Kunzel, 74, the American pops conductor and colorful showman who sold more than 10 million recordings and for nearly two decades provided the national Memorial Day and Fourth of July soundtracks with the concerts he led on the Capitol lawn, died Tuesday at a hospital near his home in Swan's Island, Maine. He had been diagnosed in April with liver, colon and pancreatic cancer.
Known as the "Prince of Pops," Mr. Kunzel had directed the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra since its founding in 1977 and led it to international fame. He built on the work of the late conductor Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops to bring orchestral music into the mainstream by leading symphonies in performances of crowd-pleasers ranging from Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" to the theme from "Star Wars."
"Orchestras began adding pops concerts to extend their seasons, . . . and they discovered two things," he told The Washington Post in 1979. "First, that a lot of people want this kind of music, and second, that there is money in it. These concerts are usually sold out. And the audiences get to hear and like the sound of a symphony orchestra -- some of them keep coming back to pops concerts and some become subscribers to the regular season."
As conductor of the Cincinnati Pops and guest conductor of many other orchestras, he stopped at nothing to make symphonic music appeal to large crowds. At a Halloween concert, he entered the stage in a coffin. For a Christmas performance, he asked audience members to come decked out in red and green. Symphonic composition was not, for him, the stuff of a rarefied world; it was music for flag-wavers, for passersby on summer nights when he offered free outdoor concerts in Cincinnati; for children.
Read the full story here.
Download his album Chiller at Universal Horror Sounds. This is a great album for Halloween.