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Wolfgang Bretschneider deceased
The General Cecilia Association for Germany (ACV) mourns the loss of its honorary president: On Friday, March 12, Monsignor Professor Dr. Wolfgang Bretschneider passed away in Bonn at the age of 79. The priest of the Archdiocese of Cologne shaped the ACV for many decades and was president of the Church Music Association from 1989 to 2018.
Marius Schwemmer, Bretschneider's successor as ACV president, paid tribute to the deceased as an "easterly person": "Wolfgang Bretschneider was the friendly face of Catholic church music in Germany for decades and gave it a sympathetic hearing in church, politics and society. It is his merit to have made the ACV a real umbrella organization of church music with all its different currents. As a priest and Christian, Wolfgang Bretschneider was deeply convinced of the Easter message of the resurrection - so he ended many of his mails with the words 'Stay in tune with Easter'. For us as ACV, his farewell speech as ACV President from 2018 remains the agenda for the future. At that time, he called, among other things, for church music 'not to become an ideology,' but to 'plant it in our time.'"
The Requiem for Wolfgang Bretschneider will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, on Wednesday, March 17, at 12 p.m. in St. Remigius Church in Bonn, Brüdergasse. Due to the Corona requirements, participation is only possible after invitation and registration. The service will be broadcast on the Internet. Afterwards, the burial will take place in the crypt of the Bonn cathedral priests and city deans. Further information also under kath-bonn.de.
Wolfgang Bretschneider was born in Dortmund on August 7, 1941. In 1947 he came to Bonn-Bad Godesberg. Since the age of seven he played the piano and at the age of 13 he received his first organ lessons from Hubert Brings (1909-1992), the organist of Bonn Cathedral. In 1961, Bretschneider graduated from the Jesuitenkolleg in Bonn and began studying philosophy and theology in Bonn, Munich, and at the Archbishop's Seminary in Cologne. At the same time he studied musicology and Catholic church music in Bonn and Munich.
On January 27, 1967, he was ordained to the priesthood by the then Archbishop Josef Cardinal Frings (1887-1978) in Cologne Cathedral and subsequently served as chaplain at St. Quirinus Minster in Neuss until 1969. In 1969 he was appointed as a repetent at the archbishop's theological seminary Collegium Albertinum in Bonn (until 1997), and in 1977 he was appointed lecturer for liturgy and church music at the seminary in Cologne (until 2011). Two years later he received his doctorate from the University of Bonn with a hymnological thesis on hymnody in the Enlightenment period.
From 1984/1987 to 2007, Bretschneider taught as professor of liturgy and church music history at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, and from 1994 also at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne. In 1985 he was elected to the board of the Werkgemeinschaft Musik, for which he had already organized meetings and advanced training courses with church musicians in the former GDR before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since 1997 Wolfgang Bretschneider was Subsidiar at Bonn Cathedral, where he also served as second organist and director of the Schola, which he founded in 1985. In 2003 he was appointed honorary professor at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn. As an organist, he has participated in numerous radio and television broadcasts and has given concerts in Germany and abroad. His main focus was French organ music of the 19th and 20th centuries. As an editor of organ scores he had published, among others, the complete organ works of Joseph Rheinberger.
Since 1984, Bretschneider has served as an advisor to the Liturgy and Music Commission of the German Bishops' Conference, most recently on the commission for the development of the new praise of God. He was also a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) and of CEDAME, the European Conference of Catholic Church Music Associations.
He has received numerous honors for his commitment, for example, in 1982 Pope John Paul II appointed him papal house chaplain, in 2003 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, and in November 2009 he received the Orlando di Lasso Medal, the highest award of the ACV.
As successor to Udo Hildenbrand, Wolfgang Bretschneider was instrumental in the reconstitution of the ACV for Germany. A member of the association since 1984, he served as provisional national president from 1989, but was elected president on November 10 of the same year, following the recognition of the association's statutes by the German Bishops' Conference in the spring of 1991. His endeavor was to build bridges between tradition and renewal, science and practice, reality and visionary ideas. Thanks to his numerous contacts, he succeeded time and again in making the ACV heard within the church structures, but also beyond their borders. During the anniversary celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the ACV in September 2018, Bretschneider had handed over the presidency to his successor Marius Schwemmer. The General Cäcilien-Verband appointed him at the same time as honorary president for life.
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