The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic have long been a prominent institution in international musical life. It was in 1972 that a radio production of Julius Klengel’s Hymnus for twelve cellos with Philharmonic members became the impetus for founding a solo ensemble of this formation. Its exceptional tonal and virtuosic qualities soon took worldwide concert audiences by storm, and now the 12 Cellists enjoy a remarkable international following. Whether they’re playing the classics, jazz, tango or avant-garde, listeners are invariably fascinated by the wide range of unique and intoxicating timbres that these twelve cellos can produce, and their mixture of seriousness and humour, of depth and lightness, appeals to audiences of all ages. Among the contemporary composers who have written works specially for the “12” are Boris Blacher, Jean Françaix, Iannis Xenakis, Wolfgang Rihm, Brett Dean, Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann, Frangis Ali-Sade, Christian Jost, Kaija Saariaho and Tan Dun. They have accompanied the German president as ambassadors of Berlin and appeared on several occasions at the Japanese Imperial Palace. Their CDs regularly make the charts and in 2001 and 2005 were awarded the "Echo Klassik" prize.