He is the oldest living Berliner Philharmoniker: former double bass player Erich Hartmann celebrates his 100th birthday on 26 January 2020. Born in Leipzig, the son of a piano maker began his musical career in difficult times. While studying double bass and composition at the conservatory in his home town, the Second World War broke out. He was drafted for military service. After being injured, he was considered unfit for combat and was able to continue his studies. He gained his first professional experience with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In November 1943, he became a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker – as its youngest musician at the time.
Only three months later, in his function as air raid warden, he witnessed the burning of the Alte Philharmonie in Bernburger Straße after a heavy air raid. He published his memoirs of this period in 1996 under the title Die Berliner Philharmoniker in der Stunde Null. Erich Hartmann played under Wilhelm Furtwängler and experienced almost the entire Herbert von Karajan era. In 1967, he founded the Double Bass Quartet of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In January 1985, the musician, who composed works for various ensembles, including the Double Bass Quartet, retired after 41 years of service. Afterwards, he continued the special bond with his orchestra. Our warmest congratulations to Erich Hartmann.