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Conductor Franz-Paul Decker (1923-2014)

Maestro Franz-Paul Decker was a conductor of international reputation who was appointed the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s first Conductor Laureate in 1995. This unique honour recognised his 40-year association as Guest Conductor, Principal Conductor, and Chief Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and his significant influence on orchestral performance in New Zealand. Franz-Paul Decker had a “love affair” with the NZSO since he first conducted it in 1966, when he was “very positively surprised [by its] highly professional musicians. Decker was born in Cologne, Germany, where he studied at the Hochschule für Musik with Philip Jarnach and Eugen Papst. He made his conducting début at the age of 22 at the Cologne Opera, and four years later was appointed to the Staatsoper Wiesbaden and subsequently to the positions of conductor of the Wiesbaden Symphony Orchestra and Generalmusikdirecktor in Bochum. In 1948, Decker was introduced to the composer Richard Strauss at a card game of whist. Strauss casually mentioned that he had just finished orchestrating four songs he had recently composed (the Four Last Songs). wikipedia