Berlin Philharmonic principal flute steps down after 46 years

Berlin Philharmonic principal flute steps down after 46 years


norman lebrecht

June 25, 2015

Andreas Blau, who delayed his retirement by a year while a successor was sought, has bid farewell to the orchestra, in which his father played before him.

His seat will be taken by Mathieu Dufour, ex-principal flute of the Chicago Symphony.



(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)

press release:

“I’ve always considered it a privilege to be able to play in this orchestra.” With these words Andreas Blau, principal flautist of the Berliner Philharmoniker, said farewell to his colleagues and Sir Simon Rattle after his last concert on 20 June 2015. The son of a Berliner Philharmoniker, he knew the orchestra from childhood. After his music studies with Karl-Heinz Zoeller and at the National Music Camp at Interlochen in the USA, he became principal flautist at the age of only 20. He was a member of the Philharmoniker for more than 46 years and played under three chief conductors: Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle. But not only that: “When I started, it was a completely different orchestra. In effect, I’ve played with an orchestra of 250 members in the course of my career,” he said humorously.

Andreas Blau was not only a dedicated orchestral musician who enchanted audiences again and again with his clear, flexible sound and his stupendous phrasing, he was also much in demand as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. As Sir Simon said in his brief farewell speech, his presence would long be felt in the Philharmonie: “I always believed that concert halls remember their music and that it’s somehow left on the walls. All your beautiful sounds are on these walls and they remain here. And may we say, you are deep in our hearts and you remain there. Thank you Andreas!”



  • Felipe Tristan says:

    Superb artist and sought after, flute professor. This particular recording of the Reinecke flute concerto is perhaps the best out there.

    Congratulations Andreas Blau on a remarkable career!

  • MacroV says:

    It always seemed to me that Andreas Blau spent much of his career in the shadow of his fellow principals, first James Galway (they joined at the same time) and for the last 23 years Emmanuel Pahud. But at age 66, he still plays beautifully (wonderful Daphnis solo just a couple weeks ago).

    I’ll definitely miss him in the Digital Concert Hall.

  • harold braun says:

    Thank you Mr.Blau!And,just by the was,Andreas Blau is living proof for the stupidity of mandatory retirement in most European countries.His playing still is out of this world!

    • MacroV says:

      I could be wrong, but I believe in this case it’s not a legal requirement, it’s the self-imposed rule of the self-governing Berlin Philharmonic. Basically it’s own way of making sure people don’t stay on well past their prime, as often happens in US orchestras.

      But no argument, he’s still playing wonderfully and I’m really sorry to see him go.

  • Max Grimm says:

    “Andreas Blau, […] has bid farewell to the orchestra, in which his father played before him.”
    – Not only his father (who was a violinist) but also his father-in-law (former principal trumpet Fritz Wesenigk) played in the orchestra and today, Mr. Blau’s own son-in-law (Albrecht Mayer) continues to play in the orchestra as well.
    Congratulations to Mr. Blau on a remarkable career and truly outstanding musicianship over the years.

  • John Lancaster says:

    Through the Digital Concert Hall, the memories of this wonderful, talented musician, a father-figure to so many, will live on and on. Thank you Andreas.

  • Kunigunde says:

    46 years….AND FIVE MONTHS

  • Greg says:

    Mr. Blau will be missed. He was on Abbado’s recording of Posthorn Serenade, and Karajan’s recording of Matthew Passion, among others. Sounded great on both of those recordings.

  • David Evans says:

    His playing was an inspiration.