Cellist Leonard Elschenbroich is one of the top German players of his instrument and has had an international career that includes an unusual Bolivian component.
Elschenbroich was born in Frankfurt in 1985. At age ten he began attending the Yehudi Menuhiin School in London on a scholarship, and his university-level studies took place at the Cologne Music Academy, with Frans Helmerson. A Leonard Bernstein Award in 2009 put him on the concert map.
The year 2012 brought multiple signs of artistic growth for Elschenbroich. He was named a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and he made his recording debut on the Oehms label with a performance of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33. He also embarked on a Latin American tour and, at the request of a friend, traveled to Bolivia to perform with a small orchestra under the direction of Miguel Salazar Hidalgo. He found a rehearsal room with a leaking roof, but also unprecedented enthusiasm: "I came to to play Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 with them, which begins with a single fortissimo chord of the orchestra, immediately followed by the solo cello entrance. At the first rehearsal, I was so shocked by this first chord that I could hardly play my entrance. Intensity, energy, passion, ambition, and a burning for music of a level I had never experienced from an orchestra before. From that moment, I knew that these musicians deserved every support and that I would need to be the one responsible for it." Elschenbroich has held the title of artistic mentor to the orchestra, has established a relationship with another group in Medellín, Colombia, and has made concerto appearances and given recitals all over South America.
Back home in Germany, Elschenbroich has served as artist-in-resident at the Deutschlandfunk radio network and with the Philharmonic Society of Bremen. His 2013 Onyx label debut was critically lauded, and he has continued to record for that label, releasing Siècle, an album of French cello works from Saint-Saëns to Dutilleux, in 2017. Elschenbroich has performed with major orchestras across Europe, the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and he has appeared at the BBC Proms seven times. His recital appearances include those at Wigmore Hall, the Auditorium du Louvre, Concertgebouw, the Frick Collection, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Elschenbroich has commissioned new works from several composers, and in April 2018 he premiered the Cello Concerto of Mark Simpson with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He has received some not strictly musical publicity from his live-in relationship with Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, with whom he has also played in a piano trio with Russian pianist Alexei Grynyuk.