Berlin Philharmonic mourns principal cellist

Berlin Philharmonic mourns principal cellist


norman lebrecht

March 30, 2021

Message received:

The Berliner Philharmoniker mourn the death of Ottomar Borwitzky, who passed away after a long and serious illness on 29 March 2021 at the age of 90. Borwitzky was a member of the orchestra for 37 years as 1st principal cellist. Born in Hamburg in 1930, he left school before graduating to become 1st principal cellist with the Hamburg Radio Orchestra. He held the same position at Hanover Opera House from 1954 before joining the Berliner Philharmoniker as 1st principal cellist in 1956. He was one of the founding members of the 12 Cellists. From 1979, he was also a teacher at the Karajan Academy. Among his solo nappearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, his interpretations of Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote are particularly memorable.

Knut Weber, cellist and media representative of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “Ottomar Borwitzky was a musical personality of extraordinary charisma. He played with an intensity that gave expression to even the briefest musical phrase. His sound was flawless, yet always lively. Through his skill, musicality and incomparable charisma, he was an inspiration to the orchestra’s cello section for decades. In a personal capacity, he was gracious, humorous and always willing to share his immense knowledge with others. With Ottomar Borwitzky we lose a key musician of the Karajan era. We will not forget him.”



  • Geoff says:

    It would have been courteous of you to add the word “former” to the headline. For those of us who care deeply for the two current principals, this is just a shameless click-bait.

    • Geigerin aus LA says:

      And may I add, we don’t mourn people when they make it to very old age. If they made it to the end with good health, we celebrate them and their accomplishments, if they had to suffer due to a horrible disease but were kept alive on modern medicine, we celebrate them and feel relieved for the end of their suffering. By the way, I hope NL did not have to pay for this website “redesign”.

    • Axl says:

      I agree with you! My first thought was that is Mr. Quandt or Mr. Delepelaire dead?
      And beacuse Berlin Phil has 1st Principals and (2nd)Principals in their hierarchy it could have also meant Mr. Maninger or Mr. Löhr

  • debuschubertussy says:

    Interesting new look to the site!