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 appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, his interpretations of Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote are particularly memorable.
Knut Weber, cellist and chairman 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.”