For six of our musicians, this season marked the end of an exciting phase: they passed their probationary period and are now full members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Congratulations! In the second part of our story, we introduce you to László Gál, Bertold Stecher und Piotr Zimnik.
László Gál already knew as a schoolboy that he wanted to become an orchestral musician. “Making music with others makes me happy,” says the Hungarian, who was familiar with the profession from an early age through his father and grandfather, both principal horn players in Budapest orchestras. He also fell in love with the versatile sound of the horn, which blends well with both woodwinds and brass. So it was only logical that he too wanted to learn this instrument. He was winning 1st prizes in national competitions while still at school.
In 2015, László Gál came to Berlin to study at the University of the Arts under Christian Friedrich Dallmann. He then attended the orchestra academy of the Staatskapelle Berlin and gained his first orchestral experience in the Staatskapelle playing third horn, before being offered a position with the Berliner Philharmoniker in May 2022, an orchestra with which he has felt a connection from an early age. “I grew up with the recordings of the Berliner Philharmoniker and never imagined that I would one day be able to play with them. It’s a dream come true!”
A challenging time began. In order to be well prepared for the first rehearsal and to feel confident, he not only practiced his part, but also worked through all the works with the score every week. After passing the probationary period, he is now happy that this stressful situation is over and that he has become an official member of the Berliner Philharmoniker. "But it is important to continue at the highest level." In the past year, he says, he has learned a lot, especially to listen carefully to others and to pay attention to even the smallest detail. "Thanks to working with famous conductors and extraordinary colleagues, my appreciation of music has become much more colorful."
"I am honoured to now be part of this exceptional community and to bring music to life in all its facets," says a delighted Bertold Stecher, who has been playing in the Berliner Philharmoniker's trumpet section since 2022. Growing up in the Vinschgau in South Tyrol, a region with a strong brass music tradition, he had a special connection to the sound of the trumpet from an early age. He started learning this instrument at the age of ten and his first successes at youth competitions encouraged him to pursue a musical career.
He discovered his passion for making music in a symphony orchestra during his time as a member of various youth orchestras such as the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the European Union Youth Orchestra. These experiences strengthened his resolve to make music his profession. He received his training at the Vorarlberger Landeskonservatorium under Lothar Hilbrand and at the Mozarteum University under Hans Gensch. Bertold Stecher began his professional career in 2012 as principal trumpet in the Bolzano Haydn Orchestra. As a guest, he has played with orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
In 2017, he was offered a permanent position as principal trumpet in the orchestra of Deutsche Oper Berlin before joining the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2022. "Gustav Mahler's Seventh Symphony marked the beginning of my probationary period," the musician recalls. "The work is complex and demanding and requires the highest virtuosity from the orchestra. The impressive quality, dedication and enthusiasm of the entire orchestra moved me deeply."
Piotr Zimnik has been playing in the double bass section of the orchestra since January 2022. The Polish-born musician studied at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno and at the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin, and was also a scholarship holder at the Karajan Academy.
He gained orchestral experience as a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and as assistant leader of the double bass section with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. A prize-winner of several international competitions, he has also worked with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, among others.