Rudolf Weinsheimer died in April 2023 aged 91


Rudolf Weinsheimer |

A cellist with the Berlin Philharmonic for over four decades, Rudolf Weinsheimer died on 11 April 2023, aged 91. He is known for being the initiator and founder of the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1972.

Born in Wiesbaden in 1931, Weinsheimer initially studied with his father, as well as with Karl Drebert and at the Folkwangschule in Essen. He was principal cellist of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie from 1954. In December 1956, he became a member of the Berliner Philharmonic at the start of the Karajan era, and was a member of the orchestra’s board from 1978 to 1984.

In 1972 he founded the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. The initiation came from a chance encounter with the teenage daughter of composer Boris Blacher, as Weinsheimer asked her if her father would like to write a piece for twelve cellos. Over the course of the year, Blacher wrote three pieces for the cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic, with more compositions and arrangements following suit, further cementing the foundations of the ensemble. The group went on to become a successful independent brand and enterprise, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.

Weinsheimer retired from the Berlin Philharmonic in 1996. He was active in supporting young musicians, especially the orchestra of Waseda University in Tokyo.

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