Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the renowned Spanish conductor noted for his mastery of a range of 20th century classical music including the complete works of composer Manuel de Falla, has died at 80. The conductor died Wednesday at a hospital in Pamplona, Spain, following a battle with cancer, according to his management agency.
His death comes after an announcement last week that he was retiring from conducting and that he was ill.
Long considered one of the preeminent conductors in the world, Frühbeck de Burgos appeared with orchestras around the world. In December he led the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a concert series spotlighting the music of Haydn.
One of his most memorable local appearances was in 2012 when he led the L.A. Philharmonic in De Falla's short opera, "La Vida Breve."
Frühbeck de Burgos held top conducting positions with classical-music groups including the Spanish National Orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany.
As an opera conductor, he was a familiar face at such institutions as the Deutsche Oper Berlin and other companies around Europe.
Frühbeck de Burgos was born in Burgos, Spain, in 1933, the son of German immigrant parents. He pursued music even though his parents wanted him to study law, and he became a concert violinist before segueing into a career as a conductor.