Paul Kuentz has become best known as a conductor of music from the Baroque and Classical periods. In particular, he has achieved acclaim for his readings of works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Haydn, Mozart, Rossini (instrumental music), and many other major and minor seventeenth and eighteenth century composers. But Kuentz's repertory has also extended into later periods, taking in works by Glazunov, Ibert, Villa-Lobos, Orff, and others. While Kuentz has largely remained a lesser known figure, he has been prolific in the recording studio, appearing in numerous releases for EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, and smaller labels like Pierre Verany. Often he has made recordings released as theme albums, such as The Magic Flute, Blue Classics, and many others. Kuentz founded his own orchestra in 1951 and has regularly led it in concert and on recordings.
Kuentz was born in Mulhouse, France, on May 4, 1930. He enrolled at the Paris Conservatory at 17, where his primary teachers were composer Noël Gallon, Eugene Bigot, and Georges Huron. He graduated in 1950 and the following year founded his orchestra, the Paul Kuentz Chamber Orchestra. Soon Kuentz and his new ensemble began attracting attention for their performances of early music. In 1956 Kuentz married French violinist Monique Frasca-Colombier, with whom he has since appeared in many concerts and on several recordings. By 1970 Kuentz had made numerous concert tours in Europe and the United States, which included one notable appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1968.
Kuentz founded his own chorus, the Paul Kuentz Choir, in 1972, and employed it regularly in concerts and recordings. Over the years Kuentz befriended and performed with some of the leading musicians of the day, including cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and harpist Nicanor Zabaleta, with whom he recorded a disc of Baroque harp concertos for Deutsche Grammophon in 1989. Among Kuentz's earlier recordings was his acclaimed two-CD set on Pierre Verany of the St. John Passion in 1987. Further successful Bach recordings followed, as well as a spate of others for various labels.
Kuentz often recorded with other orchestras, or in rare instances with his own as well as another ensemble. His acclaimed 1995 recording of Orff's Carmina Burana, for instance, employed both his own ensemble and the Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire. Kuentz's recent releases are reissues of older recordings and include the 2006 Deutsche Grammophon CD A Baroque Guitar Weekend.