Gerd Zacher


Born: July 6, 1929; Meppen, Germany  
Although outside Germany Gerd Zacher is primarily known as an organist, within Germany Zacher is highly regarded as both an organ player and a composer and elder statesman of the German avant-garde. Born into a poor family, Zacher moved around a lot and as a result he was not able to begin piano lessons until the age of 11; his first organ lesson was not until he reached the age of 16. Entering the Nordwestdeutschen Musikakademie in Detmold in Read more 1948, Zacher studied composition with Günter Bialas. Beginning in 1953 Zacher studied piano with ex-Ferruccio Busoni student Theodor Kaufman before taking his degree in 1954. After working in a Lutheran church in Santiago de Chile for a few years, Zacher settled into a post at the Lutherkirche in Hamburg-Wellingsbütte, which he kept until 1970. During this time Zacher built up a reputation for interpreting works that had been suppressed during the period of National Socialism and for presenting avant-garde concerts of music by John Cage, György Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel, Olivier Messiaen, Juan Allende-Blin, and others. In 1970, Zacher relocated his base of operations to the Folkwang-Hochschüle in Essen, where he remained as Evangelical music director until his retirement in 1991. Zacher's recording career began with Wergo in 1962, and Zacher first became widely known on records through his interpretations of György Ligeti's organ music as used by director Stanley Kubrick in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Zacher was prominently featured on the two American 2001 soundtrack albums, and in their wake, practically all of Zacher's Wergo recordings were issued on the short-lived Heliodor label in the United States. By 1970, Zacher was practically synonymous with avant-garde organ music worldwide.

In 1968, Zacher made a recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge that played a key role in finally establishing the organ as Bach's intended instrument in this work. Zacher's scholarly work on behalf of J.S. Bach has been widely praised, as has his advocacy for other composers of Bach's time, such as Johann Mattheson. Although Zacher has been a composer since childhood, he counts as his official Opus 1 his first work utilizing the twelve-tone system, Kantate Pričre pour aller au Paradis avec les ânes nach dem Gedicht von Francis Jammes (1951). Zacher is a pioneer in the use of graphic notation and has developed techniques in pipe organ playing that involve pressing the keys only partly downward and/or temporarily altering the mechanism of the instrument. Read less
Browse 1-10 of 10 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Ligeti: Atmospheres
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001767302 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Helmut Franz,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  North German Radio Chorus Hamburg,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Mendelssohn, Brahms: Organ Works / Gerd Zacher
    Label: Cybele   Catalog: 50502 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
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  • 3.
    Reger: Grand Organ Works / Gerd Zacher
    Label: Aeolus   Catalog: 10411 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
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  • 4.
    Ligeti: Clear Or Cloudy / Boulez, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000762302 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Matt Haimovitz,  Jacques Zoon,  Richard Hosford,  James [French Horn] Sommerville  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Helmut Franz,  Pierre Boulez,  David Atherton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wiener Blasersolisten,  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 5.
    Bach: Die Kunst Der Fuge / Gerd Zacher
    Label: Aeolus   Catalog: 10131 Release Date: 09/05/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
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  • 6.
    Juan Allende-blin: Organ Music / Gerd Zacher
    Label: Cybele   Catalog: 60401 Release Date: 04/25/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Juan Allende-Blin
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher,  Juan Allende-Blin
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  • 7.
    Gerd Zacher: Organ Works / Gerd Zacher
    Label: Cybele   Catalog: 60501 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gerd Zacher
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher,  Ingo Vick
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  • 8.
    20/21 - Ligeti: Volumina, Harmonies, Etc / Boulez, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471608 Release Date: 08/13/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher,  Alfons Kontarsky,  Aloys Kontarsky,  William Pearson  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    Kagel. Heterophonie, Improvisation Ajoutée. Radio So Frankfurt
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 6645 Release Date: 05/14/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mauricio Kagel
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Ionisation - Music Of Varčse, Penderecki And Ligeti
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5142 Release Date: 07/09/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  György Ligeti,  Krzysztof Penderecki,  Edgard Varčse
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher,  William Pearson,  Gertie Charlent,  Marie Therese Cahn  ... 
    Conductor:  Friedrich Cerha,  Clytus Gottwald,  Alois Springer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Reihe Ensemble,  Schola Cantorum Stuttgart,  Kohon String Quartet  ... 
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