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Cellist Rudolf Weinsheimer has Died, Aged 91

Weinsheimer was a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker for 40 years and the founder of the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic


Born in Wiesbaden in 1931, German cellist Rudolf Weinsheimer originally studied the cello with his father and eventually studied with Karl Drebert. After graduating from the Folkwang School in Essen, Weinsheimer took a solo cello role with the Northwest German Philharmonic.

After two years there, Weinsheimer became a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1956 — the same year that Herbert von Karajan was appointed as the orchestra's Principal Conductor. Indeed, Weinsheimer's career in the orchestra ran almost parallel to Karajan's, with Karajan stepping down in 1989 and Weinsheimer retiring in 1996. Alongside his long service, Weinsheimer also spent six years serving as a member of the orchestra's board.

In 1972, Weinsheimer founded The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, having been partially inspired by Julius Klengel's 1920 work Hymn for twelve cellos. The ensemble gained worldwide prominence and over its history commissioned works from a number of living composers, including Iannis Xenakis, Boris Blacher, and Brett Dean.

In addition, he was active in supporting young musicians, especially the orchestra of Waseda University in Tokyo.

You can hear Weinsheimer reminiscing about his career in the video below, which was shot in 2009.


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