Berlin’s longest serving player was… a harpist

Berlin’s longest serving player was… a harpist


norman lebrecht

February 12, 2021

All week long, archivists at the Berlin Philharmonic have been burrowing through files on behalf of Slipped Disc to determine who, in 140 years, had the longest tenure.

In recent times, matter have been complicated by German legislation which sets the earliest hiring age at 18 and a mandatory retirement age of 65, rising soon to 66/67.

So it’s no huge surprise to find that one of the founding players, the first harp, played longest.

Here is the official top 10:

54 years: Otto Müller jun., b. 1867 in Berlin, d. 1939 in Berlin, harp, BPH 1882 – 1936

50 years: Franz Veit, b. 1879 in Teplitz-Schönau, d. 1959 in Berlin, violin, concertmaster, viola, BPH 1900-1950

48 years: Hugo Blume, b. 1855 in Berlin, d. 1925 in Berlin, timpani, percussion, flute (!), BPH 1882 – 1925

46 years:

Andreas Blau, b. 1949 in Berlin, principal flute, BPH 1969 – 2015

Peter Brem, b. 1951 in Munich, violin, BPH 1970 – 2016

Otto Feist, b. 1867 in Remda, d. 1948 in Berlin, principal trumpet, BPH 1894 – 1940

Peter Steiner, b. 1928 in Berlin, d. 2003 in Berlin, principal cello, BPH 1948 – 1994

spot the harp?


Coming soon: Veterans of the Vienna Phil.

See also: The world’s longest serving orchestral musicians


  • Mercurius Londiniensis says:

    I thought that Peter Steiner would figure on the leader board. I knew him slightly: a most civilised and pleasant man. He had the looks and bearing of a Roman senator (and appears prominently in some films of the Karajan era) but his early life was far from privileged. If I recall correctly what he told me, his father ran a kind of dance band in interwar Berlin, and the family lived from hand to mouth. This helps to explain the loyalty to Karajan that he, and many other BPO players of his generation, felt. They knew that Karajan was making a lot of money personally from their joint activities. But the fact remained that the various record and film deals HvK brought gave the members of the orchestra a level of prosperity which was barely imaginable back in the late 1940s, when Steiner joined.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    So Otto was just 14 or 15 when he joined?