An ICS biography

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson performs regularly in Europe, the USA, South American and the former Soviet Union. He has appeared with major orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Salzburg’s Mozarteum Orchestra, the Hague’s Residentie Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Danish Orchestra under the direction of leading conductors such as Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, David Zinman, Sixten Ehrling, Herbert Blomstedt, Piero Gamba and Sergiu Comissiona. He has performed the Scandinavian premieres of cello concertos by Britten, Barber, Khatchaturian, Delius, Lutoslawsky and Walton, the latter two under the batons of the composers themselves.

Mr. Bengtsson has recorded over 50 albums, including many contemporary concertos dedicated to him. He is a particular champion of works by Scandinavian composers. The larger-than-life bronze statue of Mr. Bengtsson in front of Reykjavik’s University Concert Hall shows the degree to which not only Iceland but all of Scandinavia returns his affection. In 1985 Fanfare selected Mr. Bengtsson’s recording of the six Bach cello suites for the Danish label Danacord as the “Choice of the Year,” and his 1998 recording of the Kodaly Solo Sonata was included in the Guinness Classical 1,000 as one of the finest CDs in the world.

At age 16 Mr. Bengtsson began studies with Gregor Piatigorsky at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. One year later he became Piatigorsky’s assistant and the following year joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute. Throughout a five-decade-long career he has successfully combined teaching and performance, and has served on the faculties of the leading conservatories of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Cologne. In 1990 he returned to the USA as a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Music in Ann Arbor. In addition to many distinctions conferred upon him in Scandinavia and England, Mr. Bengtsson was honored with the title Chevalier du Violoncelle by Indiana University in 1993.