BERLIN -- German conductor Gerd Albrecht, who led orchestras in the Czech Republic, Japan and Denmark and worked to bring music to children, has died. He was 78.

Albrecht's office said in a statement he died in Berlin Sunday following a serious illness. It didn't elaborate.

Albrecht led the Czech Philharmonic from 1993 until he resigned in 1996, blaming "political narrow-mindedness" following a dispute that underscored lingering tensions in Czech-German relations.

He was principal conductor of the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2007 and led the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2004.

Albrecht also wrote books for children and set up a foundation to help talented young musicians. He opened a Museum of Sound in Hamburg and launched a mobile music bus that travelled to schools.