Frank-Michael - profile

Frank-Michael Guthmann



What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO?
The MCO is the perfect mélange of a chamber music group and an orchestra. The amazing positive energy, sensitive way of listening to each other and great spirit of togetherness are very unique. 

What is your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
Playing Schubert’s 5th symphony in June 2015 at the Aldeburgh Festival together with François-Xavier Roth, who was at this time also the chief conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg – my former orchestra which, for very sad political reasons, no longer exists. It was one of my first concerts with the MCO and I had already been asked whether I would be interested in becoming the orchestra’s new principal cello. During this concert I realized that I really wanted to. 

Briefly describe what a concert day involves for you:
Rehearsing or practising in the morning, a serious lunch, sleeping, coffee, bananas and chocolate in the afternoon, having fun on stage and a big beer (or even two...) afterwards.

The most inspiring composer:
There are two: Schumann and Brahms.

Which are your Desert Island Discs?
Schumann’s Dichterliebe with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and a couple of recordings with my personal hero and mentor, Steven Isserlis.


Frank-Michael Guthmann, born in Lahr/Schwarzwald, is principal cellist of the SWR Symphony Orchestra and Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Frank-Michael studied in Karlsruhe with Martin Ostertag and in Basel with Ivan Monighetti. He was also a scholarship student of the Berlin Philharmonic’s Orchestra Academy. Furthermore, masterclasses with Heinrich Schiff, Wolfgang Boettcher, Ralph Kirshbaum and – above all – intensive work with Steven Isserlis have played an important role in his career as a cellist. 

As a founding member of Trio Echnaton, Frank-Michael Guthmann has won prominent awards including the German Music Competition, International Joseph Joachim Chamber Music Competition in Weimar and ensemble prize of the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Frank-Michael has toured as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. He has also given concerts at such festivals as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Kuhmo Chamber Music, Salzburg Easter Festival, La Folle Journée Nantes and Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove. His chamber music partners have included such artists as Julia Fischer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Daniel Müller-Schott, Leif Ove Andsnes, Alexander Melnikov, Martin Stadtfeld,  Lars Vogt and Emmanuel Pahud. 

Frank-Michael Guthmann’s recordings on CD, radio and TV feature chamber music works by Bach, Mozart, Sibelius and Saariaho for the Coviello Classics label, as well as the solo part in Strauss’ Don Quixote with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg under François-Xavier Roth for the SWRmusic label. 

He performs regularly as guest principal cellist with orchestras such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Frank-Michael Guthmann has taught at the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe and gives masterclasses in Germany, Belgium and Italy.