The most successful classical/crossover recording artist in chart history, Erich Kunzel rose to fame during his lengthy reign as the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Educated at Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown Universities, he studied under French conductor Pierre Montreux, later serving as his personal assistant; in 1965, Kunzel was invited by music director Max Rudolph to join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, soon taking over their Eight O'Clock Pops series. His affinity for the pops repertoire was immediate, and in 1970 Arthur Fiedler invited him to conduct the Boston Pops; in the years to follow, he returned to Boston annually to assume guest conductor duties, and by the time the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was officially established in 1977, Kunzel was the obvious choice for conductor.
Becoming a fixture of pops performances, Kunzel subsequently served as regular guest conductor with orchestras all over the country, appearing annually with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Music Center, the Toronto Symphony, the Minnesota and Detroit Symphonies, and the National Symphony both at the Kennedy Center and on the lawn of the Capitol, returning each year for the nationally televised Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts. Many of Kunzel's recordings with the Cincinnati Pops -- among them The Sound of Music, Victory at Sea and Chiller -- topped Billboard's chart of best-selling classical crossover records; in total, over three dozen of his works made chart appearances, a number unpredecedented for pops recordings. ~ Jason Ankeny