The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic: Better by the dozen
Katinka Welz speaks to members of the ensemble about its history and popularity
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It was all down to a chance encounter. On a rainy morning in 1972 Rudolf Weinsheimer, cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic, was driving into town for rehearsals when he noticed a hitch-hiker at a bus stop. He offered her a lift, only to discover that she was the teenage daughter of composer Boris Blacher (1903–75). Weinsheimer, utterly delighted, ventured a question: would her father be prepared to write a piece for twelve cellos?
Blacher agreed, and over the course of the year he dedicated three pieces – Rumba philharmonica, Blues and Espagnola – to the cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic. Other composers followed suit, arrangements were added to the repertoire, and soon the cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic became an independent – and hugely successful – brand and enterprise: the 12 Cellists…