Franz-Paul Decker. Conductor, b Cologne 26 Jun 1923; honorary LL D (Concordia) 1975. He studied 1941-4 at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne with Philip Jarnach and Eugen Papst and took classes in conducting, composition, and pedagogy at the University of Cologne. He began his career in Giessen in 1944 and was a conductor of orchestras in a succession of German cities. He was artistic director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra 1962-8. He visited Canada in the summer of 1965 to direct the NYO, which engaged him again for the 1968 session.
Decker guest-conducted the MSO in 1966 and succeeded Zubin Mehta as conductor and artistic director in 1967, retaining that position until 1975. The MSO made notable progress under his energetic and disciplined leadership and appeared under his direction at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan. Decker has directed the premieres of several Canadian works, notably Pépin'sQuasars, Symphony No. 3 in 1967, Schafer'sSon of Heldenleben and Garant'sPhrases II in 1968, Saint-Marcoux'sHétéromorphie in 1970, Jacques Hétu'sPassacaille in 1971, and Pépin's Prismes et cristaux in 1974. At the Opéra du Québec Decker directed Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi) in 1971, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci in 1973, and Falstaff in 1974. He served 1975-7 as artistic adviser to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and 1980-2 as artistic adviser to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared with numerous major European orchestras and has toured South America in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1974, and 1975, Australia in 1967, 1975, and 1978, and New Zealand in 1966 and 1976. In 1975 he was praised in Dallas, Texas, for his conducting of Tristan und Isolde with Jon Vickers; and in 1978 after he led the same company in performances of The Flying Dutchman, John Ardoin wrote, 'His direction of Dutchman reaffirmed the luminous qualities of drama, style, and commitment he brought to Tristan, into which he had breathed life' (Dallas Morning News, 3 Dec 1978). Appointed principal guest conductor of the New Zealand SO in 1982 and artistic director of the Barcelona Orchestra in 1986, Decker has continued to appear with Canadian orchestras such as the OJQ, the TS and the MSO.