The Berliner Philharmoniker are mourning the death of their former concertmaster Hellmut Stern, who died on 21 March at the age of 91. Hellmut Stern was born in Berlin to a Jewish family that fled to Harbin (now in China) after the November pogroms of 1938. In 1949, the family managed to leave for Israel. His first engagements took Hellmut Stern to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and to the USA, before he returned to Berlin in 1961 and became a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Hellmut Stern was a member of the orchestra board from 1969 to 1972 and from 1990 to 1992, and of the Council of five from 1984 to 1987. He retired in 1994.
Alexander Bader, clarinetist and chair of the orchestra board of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “Hellmut Stern was a defining musician of the Karajan era and an impressive personality in every respect. By returning to Germany after the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust and becoming a member of our orchestra, he set a unique example of reconciliation and forgiveness. With this in mind, he also initiated the Berliner Philharmoniker’s first tour of Israel in 1990 as chairman of the orchestra. Also off the concert stage, Hellmut Stern was committed to the orchestra for many years and was particularly committed to its democratic self-determination. After his retirement he remained close to us. We mourn the passing of a friend, great colleague and important contemporary witness.”