A wandering maestro has died, aged 90

A wandering maestro has died, aged 90


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2014

We have been informed of the death in Montreal of Franz-Paul Decker, who was music director of many orchestras around the world,

Starting at Bochum ((1956–1964), he led the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra  (1962–1967), Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1967–1975), the Barcelona (1985–1991), and New Zealand (1991–1996) symphony orchestras.

Much of his secondary activity was in Canada where he served as Artistic Advisor to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (1975–1977) and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He was Principal Guest Conductor in Ottawa (1991–1999) and Edmonton  (2003–2004).

He made a considerable number of recordings, latterly on the Naxos label and was renowned as an interpreter of late-romantic composers, especially Richard Strauss. Our sympathies to his family. Death notice here.



  • Brian says:

    Sad news. I have fond memories of a Sinfonia Domestica he conducted in Bilbao about 14 years ago, the first time I ever heard that piece. My condolences to his family.

  • Bill says:

    Very sad news. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Decker on a number of programs during the three years I spent in the Orquesta Ciutat de Barcelona in the early 90s. Following his tenure as music director, he would return to conduct the orchestra every so often. He was an inspiring musician who had a deep connection to the late Romantic repertoire. A wonderful and quirky character, to boot.

  • Martha says:

    Mein herzliches Beileid an Arabella Decker und die ganze Familie.

  • Bud Jones QSM says:

    Franz-Paul: a genius, a real maestro, it was all memorized, he could here it in his head and conducted what he could hear. It was a glorious sound he heard, not notes on paper. It was a revelation to me, 1967-2005 New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
    The best I ever encountered !

    Bud Jones QSM
    New Zealand

  • MacroV says:

    I had the privilege to hear Decker several times – once in Seattle and several times in Montreal. An amazing musician; he really “got” Richard Strauss, among others. I’ll never forget his leading the Seattle Symphony in a rocking, gritty Rosenkavalier Suite that probably would have left the music director of the time aghast, but it was exhilharating. In recent years he really should have been a beloved elder statesman like Haitink, Skrowaczewski, or Bloomstedt, but his genius on the podium didn’t seem to translate well into career management. Props to the people in Barcelona, New Zealand and Buenos Aires – as well as the various Canadian orchestras – who understood what an undervalued treasure he was.