The 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker were founded in response to a recording of Julius Klengel’s Hymnus for 12 cellos that the cello section of the Berliner Philharmoniker made for Austrian Radio in 1972. The appeal of this special sound world seemed so promising to the 12 that they decided to form a permanent ensemble. Their repertoire consists of arrangements of classical works and original compositions that they themselves commission. Following Boris Blacher, who was the first contemporary composer to write a new work for the ensemble, Jean Françaix, Iannis Xenakis, Günter Bialas, Wolfgang Rihm, Brett Dean, Sebastian Currier, Frangis Ali-Sade, Tan Dun, Kaija Saariaho, and Sofia Gubaidulina, among others, have composed original works for the 12 Cellists. The ensemble is also a pioneer in the field of crossover: it has had songs by the Beatles, gospel music, tangos, jazz pieces, and film scores arranged for its performances, thus ensuring a programming variety whose appeal extends to audiences beyond the initiated classical music community. Numerous CDs, which have won the Echo Klassik Award no fewer than three times and several of which have made it into the charts, document their artistic work. In addition to concert appearances all around the world, the 12 Cellists are involved in charity events for people in need. And they are a prominent musical ambassador for Berlin: the Twelve have played for the American President, have accompanied the German Federal President on state visits, and have been guests of the Japanese Emperor and Empress on several occasions.

Lucerne Festival (IMF) debut on 30 August 1980 in a program of works by David Funk, Julius Klengel, Helmut Eder, Rudolf Kelterborn, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Boris Blacher.

April 2024