Christian Poltéra was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1977. He studied cello with Nancy Chumachenko at the Zurich School of Music. Under her guidance he played in a trio with violinist Linus Roth and pianist (now conductor) Philippe Jordan, and with them won first prize in chamber music performance at the 1992 Swiss National Competition. Poltéra had further studies with Boris Pergamenschikow in Berlin, and with Heinrich Schiff in both Salzburg and Vienna. During his student years Poltéra was already drawing notice as a soloist: at 17 he relaced Yo-Yo Ma in a Zurich concert with the Tonhalle Orchestra under David Zinman in a peformance of an Elgar concerto. In 1998 Poltéra debuted in the recording studio with a pair of Pan Classics CDs, the first containing the Cello Concerto of Paul Huber and the next offering a Dvorák concerto. By the turn of the new century Poltéra was regarded among the most talented young Swiss cellists.
In 2001 Poltéra became a member of the BBC New Generation Artist scheme, performing in that capactity until 2004. That year he received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, which provides financial assistance to outstanding young talent in the development of their careers.
In 2006 Poltéra made his New York debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra and the following year made his BBC Proms debut. Meanwhile, the European Concert Hall Organization selected Poltéra as a Rising Star for the 2006-2007 concert season. In this role Poltéra was given a slate of concerts in repertory of his choosing at some of Europe's most prestigious concerts halls. Poltéra continued making important debuts, as with his 2008 appearance at Carnegie Hall with Mitsuko Uchida and others in a performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. In 2010 Poltéra appeared on an acclaimed BIS CD of Mozart's trios K. 471 and K. 563, with trio companions Frank Peter Zimmermann and Antoine Tamestit. Poltéra's busy 2012 schedule included concerts in February in Vevey, Switzerland, and Antwerp, Belgium with pianist Ronald Brautigam in sonatas by Beethoven. Poltéra plays a 1675 Antonio Casini cello.