Conductor suffers ‘dizzy spell’ in concert

Conductor suffers ‘dizzy spell’ in concert


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2014

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos was obliged to sit down during the third movement of Friday night’s performance of Respighi’s Pines of Rome in Washington, D. C.

The Spanish conductor, 80, was seen to clutch the rail of his podium for support. A violinist rusged out to fetch a chair and he finished beating the performance from a seated position. Spanish media have been informed that he suffered a dizzy spell during an overlong programme.

Frühbeck, keine credits_thumb


  • NSO musician says:

    It was the scariest moment I have witnessed in my 30 years in the NSO. His long-lasting, repeated yawns toward the end of the third movement of ‘Pines of Rome’ were not out of boredom, as I first suspected, but for air. His awareness of where he was totally in doubt. Thank God he fell backwards against the railing of the podium rather than forward into sure disaster off the foot and half conductor’s podium. The audience gasped, the orchestra musicians traumatized – the music abruptly came to a halt. Musicians leaped up to steady him. Somehow he continued, to the end of the work in a seated position on the podium. It was as dramatic as it was heroic. Miraculously he got to his feet in the final 10 or so seconds. The ovation was thunderous, some musicians visibly moved to tears.

    • Thank you, NSO musician, for sharing that first hand account. He is a fine musician, and indeed, as you say–heroic.

    • John says:

      I heard him do the Pines of Rome with the LA Phil in Disney Hall several years ago. Thrilling! This man is one of the most underrated conductors out there. I love his work and wish him a speedy recovery.

  • To this day, my childhood days favourite recordings of the Mozart Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana are those of de Burgos.

  • He’s a wonderful conductor — I remember seeing him several times many many years ago. Perhaps it was just exhaustion. Also, allergies (which have started in DC) can produce a lack of balance for brief periods. Here’s hoping it was nothing serious.

  • harold braun says:

    Mastro Fruehbeck De Burgos has been conducting usually seated during the last two or three years,occasionally rising to his feet at climactic or dramatic moments.He for some reason lost much weight in 2011,and really looks very frail.But certainly his conducting is as compelling as ever,and his schedule would be awesome for someone even half his age.Wish him speedy recovery!

  • Tom Thoreson says:

    I always liked and respected this conductor.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    He’s a great conductor.