Volker Hartung is one of the most interesting personalities in the conducting scene today. His unmistakable conducting style and skill in hand‐ling orchestras and soloists make him very popular wherever he works.
Born in Cologne he began learning the violin and viola at the age of nine. American scholarships enabled Hartung to study viola and conducting at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City with Ivan Galamian, Joseph Gingold, than Alan de Veritch, William Primrose's assistant at the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles, before returning to Germany to complete his studies with Sergiu Celibidache in Munich.
Volker Hartung has been Principal Conductor of the Cologne New Philharmonic since 1986 and has appeared with the Orchestra at numerous Inter‐national Music Festivals. His several decades of experience as an independant, completely unsubsidized head of ensembles have tought him how to form orchestras and make them fiancially and artistically viable in the face of various obstacles. One of his secrets is to perform a very wide ranging, extremely rich repertoire that is absolutely unspecialized and to be flexible enough to switch smoothly to other genres, like film and light music. His lectures on music history and performance technique are internationally renowned.
Volker Hartung assumed the position of chief conductor of the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra in 1986. He was trained in the tradition of German symphony orchestras and opera. Under the influence of the conductors Evgeny Mravinsky and Sergiu Celibidache, Hartung developed a special understanding of the French, German and Slavic musical traditions. He was particular impressed by Arturo Toscanini and his influence on the American musical scene. The atmosphere and professionalism of musical training there was taken by Hartung as model for linking the spirituality of European music with the direct, Dionysian and Apollonian discipline and faithfulness of the American musical approach.
Unlike many young conductors whose training was solely academic, Hartung has been active in all areas of music. In his early years he was a solo viola player and chamber musician in professional circles. He then proved his ability as a conductor, artistic director, and orchestra manager. As a result, he has at his disposal an extensive repertoire that is continually growing and that he passes on to his musicians in intense rehearsals.
In place of the widespread tendency towards specialization, Hartung offers his musicians a comprehensive musical programme. In addition to the historical, dramatic and symphonic traditions of western music, Hartung also devotes his energy to musical theatre and audiovisual media.