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Johannes Zentner (Conductor, Composer)

Born: January 27, 1903 - Naters, Switzerland
Died: June 6, 1989 - Schaffhausen, Switzerland

The Swiss conductor and composer, Johannes (Jean) Zentner, was the son of Heinrich, Hoteliers, and Hanna Margaretha (neé Ehrmann). He studied at the Konservatorium und Lehrerseminar Muristalden in Bern under Hans Lavater. In 1924 he married Marie Emilie Häusermann.

After his studies, Johannes Zentner was music teacher in Spiez. From 1926, he served as music director in Weinfelden. As the founder of the Thurgauer Kammerorchester (1929-1931), and the Kammerensemble Zürich, he had also dealt intensively with the orchestral conducting. To improvev his orchestral conducting skills, Zentner studied from 1937 to 1947 with the renowned conductor Hermann Scherchen. He was music teacher at the Seminar Küsnacht (Switzerland) and Küsnacht and as director of the Männerchöre Zürich-Aussersihl and Frohsinn Winterthur, as well as conductor of the youth and symphony concerts of the Tonhalle-Orchesters Zürich. In all those posts he acquired an excellent reputation.

In 1948 Johannes Zentner came to Schaffhausen, as the successor to the legendary Oskar Disler who had conducted the Männerchor and the Frauenchor Schaffhausen for 30 years. With his fundamentals and tremendous energy and creativity Zentner rendered in Schaffhausen an immense task: director of the two choirs, founder and director of the Kammerorchester des MCS, conductor of every year one or two subscription concerts (including Bachfest concerts), director of the Singschule (Kantorei) der Schaffhauser (from 1952), director of the the Kantonalen Chorverbandes. Although he could be sometimes impatient and hard in the rehearsals, he always remained warmly human and closely connected to the the singers, even after his resignation, which took place in 1975.

Besides his work as a choral and orchestral conductor, Johannes Zentner also created a large number of immortal compositions, chamber and vocal music, especially church music. Swiss Pan CD Schaffhauser published organ music by him taken up in Media Vita.


Der Lobgesang der Maria, for alto & organ (1960)
Gloria in excelsis Deo, for soprano, alto & organ (1966)
Wer unter dem Schirm des Höchsten wohnet, Cantata for for alto, violin & organ (1960; published by Hässler-Verlag Stuttgart-Hohenheim)
Wer unter dem Schirm des Höchsten
Wer unter dem Schirm des Höchsten sitzet
Vier Lieder for alto, oboe and piano based on poems by Hans Reinhart (1954; privately printed)
Die Chinesische for solo flute & choir (Édition HENN, Genéve)
Jahreszeiten-Kantate, for two equal voices (choirs), 2 violins, bass and two recorders, piano ad lib (1952-1954)
Zwei Lieder vom Wandern (Zürich: Hug, 1950)
31 Kanons (1977)
Singen kann er nicht, for men choir (1979)
Kleine Sonate, for violin & piano (1952)
Psalm 61, for menchoir, by choir & organ (1943)

Also choral pieces, such as:
Unser Munot


Source: Schaffhauser Oratorienchor Website (Version from September 28, 2007 on Internet Archive ) & German Wikipedia Website (October 2013), English translation by Aryeh Oron (May 2015); Bits & pieces from other sources
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2015)

Johannes Zentner: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Johannes Zentner (Wikipedia) [German]
Zentner, Johannes (Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz) [German]

Johanners Zentenr Biography on Internet Archive [German]


Albert Bruckner: Neue Schweizer Biographie (Basel 1938), S. 594
P. Rohr: «Johannes Z.», in Schaffhauser Biogr. (Tl. 6, 2007), 349-35

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
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