Sadness: A great cellist has died

The family of Anner Bijlsma have shared the lamentable news of his death in Amsterdam last night at the age of 85.

Principal cellist of the Concertgebouw orchestra in the 1960s, he developed an interest in period performance and collaborated extensively with Frans Brüggen and Gustav Leonhardt. His recording of the Bach suites was the first on a period instrument. He founded a gut string ensemble Archibudelli with his violinist wife, Vera Beths.

The son of a violin teacher in The Hague, he won a Pablo Casals competition in Mexico at 25 and was destined for international fame.

UPDATE: The difference that Anner made.

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  • Very sad news. Anner Bylsma was a wonderful cellist, both on ’period’ and on ‘modern’ instruments, on Baroque as well as on contemporary repertoires.

    On the Bach solo cello suites: His interpretation is doubtless my favorite (I mean the 1978 recording on the Seon label; he recorded the suites 6 times, if I remember well). However, I’m not sure Mr. Bylsma was the first to record the Bach suites on a ‘period’ instrument with gut strings (maybe Nikolaus Harnoncourt was the first?).


  • He will be greatly missed. A musician that was such a major influence on so many musicians and listeners and a vibrant personality Rest in peace.

  • Bravo, Maestro Bijlsma, for the life you led and the joy you brought to your colleagues, your students, and your audiences.
    You will live long in the memories of all of us.

  • Very great musician, a generous soul and a fun person. He will be missed by many. Condolences to Vera Beths, also a wonderful musician in her own right.

  • I have never heard the suites played like the video. I am stunned. Where might I find the recordings? His 1979 is such a far cry from this later interpretation.

  • A great cellist indeed. He was a wonderful artist.

    Search out his brilliant recording of the Haydn cello concertos, with a third concerto by Haydn’s pupil Anton Kraft, with Jeanne Laom directing Tafelmusik. My reference recording for these works, and for how to inject wit and brio into eighteenth-century music without going to far.

    I also have collected his recordings with Archibudelli, which are inspiring and delightful.

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