NZ Symphony orchestra’s first Conductor Laureate passes away at 90.

Franz-Paul Decker, who was appointed the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s first Conductor Laureate in 1995, has died at the age of 90. Decker enjoyed a 40-year association as Guest Conductor, Principal Conductor, and Chief Conductor of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the appointment recognised his significant influence on orchestral performance in New Zealand.

Decker also made regular appearances in Australia, conducting most of the major orchestras (see below), but it is probably for his work in New Zealand that he will be best remembered. Under his baton, the NZSO scaled new heights, most notably in works by Richard Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner and Wagner, and he gave several outstanding first performances, in keeping with his aim to extend the NZSO’s repertoire. These included Bruckner’s Ninth (1976), Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony(1987) and Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande(1990).

NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says: “Maestro Franz-Paul Decker is much loved by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra family. His insatiable musical appetite, since he first took up his post as Principal Guest Conductor in 1984, will continue to impact the musical life of the NZSO for many years to come.”

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