Lute • Conductor
• Born 1961
Often appears with
Wolfgang Katschner has gained recognition as a lutenist and, increasingly as his career has developed, as a conductor, and ensemble leader. He is well versed in Baroque performance practice and Baroque opera, especially the operas of Handel.
Katschner was born in Kyritz, in the Brandenburg region of what was then East Germany, in 1961. He studied at East Berlin's top music school, the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin, at first specializing in guitar. Unusually, he was able to cross to the West for further study, and he enrolled as a lutenist at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt. Together with another lutenist and guitarist, Hans-Werner Apel, he founded Die Lautten Compagney ("The Lute Company") in 1984. From the beginning, the group concerned itself with the performance of Baroque opera, a field in which Katschner became an important researcher. As interest in Baroque opera grew, and the roles of ensembles of plucked strings were appreciated in more detail, Die Lautten Compagney prospered, with Katschner as director. Katschner also directed a vocal group, Capella Angelica.
In 1995, Katschner and Die Lautten Compagney released Lieben und geliebet werden, a collection of music from operas by Johann Philipp Krieger. The group became popular at German festivals including the Rheingau Music Festival, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, Kissinger Winterzauber ("Winter Magic of Bad Kissinger," in Bavaria), and in addition to its busy concert schedule, Katschner began to take on the direction of full-scale operas. Often these were little-known works, such as La diavolessa, by Baldassare Galuppi, at the Hans Otto Theatre in Potsdam in 2002. In 2004, Katschner led the Cape Town Opera in South Africa in Handel's Alcina, and he conducted several Handel productions at the Handel Festival in Halle, Germany. Since then, he has been widely recognized as a Handel specialist but has also conducted other Baroque works as well as several by Philip Glass, joining Die Lautten Compagney to that composer's Philip Glass Ensemble. His 2010 recording Timeless combined Glass' music with that of Renaissance composer Tarquinio Merula. For the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg he has conducted operas by Nicola Porpora, Tommaso Traetta, and Leonardo Vinci, none of them at all well known.
Katschner has devoted energy to teaching, giving masterclasses at the University of Music in Mainz and the Academy of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar. Katschner has been heard on recordings on the Carus, Berlin Classics, and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi labels, among others; on the latter imprint he released War & Peace - 1618:1918 with Die Lautten Compagney and soprano Dorothee Mields in 2018.