Award-winning Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conductor Erich Kunzel died Tuesday (Sept. 1) after a four-month fight with cancer of the pancreas, liver and colon. He was 74.

“Erich Kunzel’s legacy was simply tremendous and one the Cincinnati Pops is deeply committed to honoring this season and well into the future,” said CSO board of directors chair Marvin Quin. “We were truly fortunate to have this world-famous conductor spend 44 years with us in Cincinnati.”

Born in New York City and raised in Greenwich, Conn., Kunzel gravitated towards music at an early age. After beginning as a chemistry major at Dartmouth, Kunzel switched to music and also attended Harvard and Brown, where he eventually received a master’s degree. He also studied with and worked for the famous French conductor Pierre Monteux. Kunzel made his professional conducting debut in 1957, where he led the Santa Fe Opera Company in “La Serva Padrona.” In 1965, Kunzel joined the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as an associate conductor and later that year conducted his first “8’Clock Pops” concert, which sold out, and became committed to the Pops style of classical music, achieving worldwide recognition and accolades for his work.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague Erich Kunzel,” said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Paavo Järvi. “He was a remarkable spirit and a tremendous musician. His many years of music making with the Cincinnati Pops brought joy to literally millions, and I join with our community in Cincinnati as well as his fans around the world in mourning the loss of this great musical icon.”

Kunzel is survived by his wife Brunhilde. The Cincinnati Pops set up a memorial webpage that is located at The site contains photos from the conductor’s career and allows visitors to post their respects. Cards and notes can be sent for the Kunzel family at Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, 1241 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.