Günter Wand

Many of the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne's music directors have been world-class conductors. One of the most distinguished was Günter Wand, who came to the Cologne Opera as Principal Conductor in 1939 and shaped the orchestra as General Music Director and Gürzenich Music Director from 1946 to 1974. Under his direction, the Gürzenich Orchestra developed into an outstanding ensemble, establishing itself not only with excellent performances of Classical and Romantic repertoire but contemporary music as well, as evidenced by numerous world premieres and first German performances, such as Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Concerto for Orchestra (1946), the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra of Wolfgang Fortner (1951) and works by Oliver Messiaen, to mention but a few. His strict concept of fidelity to the score is legendary. While still a young conductor, he was asked how he would interpret Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, more like Arturo Toscanini or rather in the style of Wilhelm Furtwängler; his answer was, 'Like Beethoven'. In later years he concentrated almost exclusively on works of the Classical and Romantic periods. His recordings of the Bruckner and Schubert symphonies from the 1980s are still regarded as reference recordings.

Günter Wand