Born in Cologne, Hartung began learning the violin and viola at the age of nine.
From 1972 to 1980 he studied viola and chamber music with Gerard Ruymen at the Cologne Conservatory as well as with the Amadeus Quartet, attended master classes with Rainer Moog, Gerard Caussé, Bruno Giuranna and Sandor Végh.
He was Principal Violist with the Klassische Philharmonie in Bonn from 1974 to 1980 and with Rhenish Chamber Orchestra in Cologne.
American scholarships enabled Hartung to study viola and conducting at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City with Ivan Galamian, Joseph Gingold, Margaret Pardee and the Juilliard Quartet from 1980 to 1982.
He continued his studies with Alan de Veritch, William Primrose's assistant at the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles.
There he was also a member of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra before returning to Germany to complete his studies with Andreas Brockmann and Sergiu Celibidache in Munich.

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Volker Hartung has been Principal Conductor of the Cologne New Philharmonic since 1986 and has appeared with the Orchestra at numerous International Music Festivals and concert tours throughout the world.
Numerous international orchestras as for example the MDR Radio Orchestra Leipzig, the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, the Bulgarian Philharmonic Orchestra in Sofia, the Philharmonic Orchestra Szczecin, Poland, the Camerata Hamburg, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, have welcomed Hartung as guest conductor.

His several decades of experience as an independent orchestra manager have taught him how to form orchestras and make them financially and artistically viable in the face of various obstacles. He is able to perform a very wide ranging, extremely rich repertoire that is unspecialized and often combining different genres, like film and light music with the classical repertory.
His lectures on music history and performance technique are internationally renowned as his concerts in numerous radio and television programs, which last but not least are aired by German Radio & TV as SWR, MDR, WDR, and not to forget his presence on YouTube. He is flexible enough to switch smoothly to other genres, like film and light music.



Volker Hartung assumed the position of Principal Conductor of the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra in 1986. He studied the tradition of German symphonic and operatic repertoire. Under the influence of the conductors Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Busch, Evgeny Mravinsky, Ernest Ansermet and Sergiu Celibidache, Hartung developed a special understanding of the German, French and Russian musical traditions. 
He was particular impressed by 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 practical discipline and efficiency of the American musical approach.

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 repertory that is continually growing and that he passes on to his musicians in intense rehearsals and unforgettable concert events. In place of the widespread tendency towards specialization, Hartung offers his musicians a comprehensive musical program.
In addition to the historical, dramatic and symphonic traditions of western music, Hartung also devotes his energy to musical theatre and audio-visual media.

Since 2006 due to his international obligations as a guest conductor Volker Hartung withdrew from the operational management of the Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 2006 to 2011 Hartung worked as Head of Orchestra Studies at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore.
Besides proceeding as Artistic Director of Cologne New Philharmonic he is worldwide active as guest conductor.