Exclusive: Vienna Philharmonic picks new concertmaster

Exclusive: Vienna Philharmonic picks new concertmaster


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2015

After a search that has lasted more than two years, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra voted today to approve a successor to the esteemed Rainer Kuchl, who is due to retire.

The man elected is José Maria Blumenschein, German born and 30 years old. He is presently joint concertmaster of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, and before that was associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He’s a student of the late Joseph Silverstein.

His appointment has yet to be officially announced.


UPDATE – 6 hours later, here’s the official announcement:

José Maria Blumenschein new concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra / Vienna Philharmonic

The young Brasilian-German violinist José Maria Blumenschein has today, 15th December 2015, won the concertmaster auditions in the Wiener Staatsoper. On 1st September 2016, he will take up the position of a concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra / Vienna Philharmonic, which occurs due to the retirement of Prof. Rainer Küchl on 31st August 2016 after 45 years of service.

José Maria Blumenschein was born 1985 in Freiburg im Breisgau as the son of a family originally from Goiania, Brazil. He studied in Mannheim with Vera Kramarowa and with Joseph Silverstein at the renowned “Curtis Institute of Music” in Philadelphia, USA. During his studies, he founded the “Vertigo String Quartet”, with which he has won several prizes. As a chamber musician, he has regularly performed with prestigious fellow artists on the international concert podium. As a soloist, José Maria Blumenschein has won several significant competitions.

In 2010, he moved back to Germany, where he took up his position as 1st concertmaster in the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Cologne. In 2014 and 2015, he was first concertmaster at the Bayreuth Festival under Christian Thielemann, under whose direction he also performed with the Bamberg Symphony and the Dresden Staatskapelle.



  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Congratulations to Jose, a great tribute to his former teacher, the late Joseph Silverstein, at Curtis where he graduated in 2007 and immediately became Associate Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 22. He speaks Portuguese, English, and German and is an outstanding musician and colleague. He was born in 1985 and is 30 years old.

    Those who don’t know his playing might find this performance of Bartok of interest:


  • Brian says:

    It would be interesting to know if any women were among the finalists. Obviously for a concertmaster job the final rounds wouldn’t have been screened.

  • wiener says:

    Morgen ist erst das Probespiel mit Orchester !!

  • Chuck Sterne says:

    All of us at Curtis are very very proud of Jose Maria. Such a shame that Mr. Silverstein is not here to enjoy this – God bless him.

    • Solomiya says:

      Hi Chuck, I talked Mrs Silverstein and shared the news about Jose’s appointment. Mrs Silverstein is absolutely thrilled and proud of Jose’s accomplishments.(and so we all!!!)

  • Heinrich says:

    Hopefully this is the beginning of a long and fruitful career like that enjoyed by Herr Kuchl…..