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  • Writer's pictureGeoffrey Dean

Boston Symphony Cellist-Composers: Carl Bayrhoffer

Updated: May 28, 2022

Carl Bayrhoffer (1859-1926) was BSO first cellist for the latter part of the orchestra’s inaugural 1881-2 season, under the direction of conductor George Henschel./1/ Bayrhoffer was born in Dusseldorf on May 19, 1859, the middle son of a local music publisher./2/ In 1878, both he and Boston composer George Chadwick were students at the Leipzig Conservatory;/3/ at that time Alwin Schroeder’s older brother Carl was the cello teacher there. Chadwick may well have encouraged Bayrhoffer to come to the United States when the formation of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was announced.

Arriving in the US in October 1881,/4/ the 22-year-old cellist appeared as soloist with the BSO two months later, playing the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto, Op. 33, and the Bargiel Adagio./5/ Bayrhoffer “stepped from his familiar place among the orchestra and gave a most pleasing and intelligent interpretation of the beautiful violoncello concerto, to the great pleasure and evident appreciation of the audience.”/6/ He was declared “an artist of fine parts, excellent promise and considerable present accomplishment.”/7/ The Boston Herald offered this opinion of Bayrhoffer’s performance of the Saint-Saens: “His tone was large, true and sympathetic, his technique good, and his playing… proved him to be a musician of rare ability.”/8/ A more detailed critique in The Boston Daily Advertiser had unqualified praise for Bayrhoffer’s technical skill, but found his tone “not sympathetic and not always even agreeable…”/9/

When veteran Boston cellist Wulf Fries resigned as BSO first cellist in early 1882, Bayrhoffer took his place for the reminder of the 1881-2 season. For reasons unknown Bayrhoffer then left Boston for New York, giving his first recorded performances there in September 1882./10/ He was the cello teacher at the New York College of Music, circa 1884-1886, playing on faculty chamber music concerts organized by the College./11/ Bayrhoffer also appeared as an assisting artist on concerts given by touring musicians,/12/ and he was associated with several New York orchestras, including those of Van Der Stucken/13/ and Damrosch. In 1886, Bayrhoffer joined three other members of the Damrosch orchestra in forming a string quartet./14/

Bayrhoffer became an American citizen in April 1887, but left the US the following month, living in Basel, Switzerland through the early 1890s. He had originally planned to return to the US “as soon as the state of my health permits,”/15/ but from the 1893-4 season Bayrhoffer was in Glasgow, Scotland,/16/ perhaps at the invitation of George Henschel. The BSO’s founding conductor had just been appointed to a similar post with the Scottish Orchestra Company, known today as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra./17/

As in Boston, Bayrhoffer did not start out as principal cellist in Glasgow. For three seasons he was a member of the orchestra’s cello section and performed as second cello in chamber concerts with Scottish Orchestra concertmaster Maurice Sons and principal cellists Julius Schwanzara (1893-4)/18/ and Leo Taussig (1894-6),/19/ before moving up to the principal position in 1896-7./20/ By this time Concertgebouw Orchestra founding conductor Willem Kes had taken over Henschel’s role as conductor of the orchestra. Bayrhoffer may have remained in Glasgow until as late as 1911,/21/ but from the early 1900s his documented musical activities and associations seem to have been exclusively in his native Dusseldorf,/22/ where he died on June 21, 1926./23/

Bayrhoffer's Five Songs Without Words for violin and piano were published in 1893./24/ A cello version of the first of these, the "Wiegenlied," was later brought out by the same London publisher./25/ Both are available on IMSLP. Another “little composition” by Bayrhoffer, a Lied ohne Worte in C Major for violin and piano published later in the decade, was said to confirm the favorable impression made by his earlier pieces, and to require similarly modest technical attainments./26/ Schott published his Erinnerung (Souvenir) for cello and piano in 1911 and, in 1916, a set of songs;/27/ these works might have been heard in a 1904 Dusseldorf concert of Bayrhoffer’s music./28/


1. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, The Boston Symphony Orchestra: An Historical Sketch (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1914), p. 246

2. Carl Bayrhoffer's father Wilhelm Johann Heinrich Peter Bayrhoffer was born in Frankfurt on April 9, 1820, and died in Dusseldorf on April 10, 1875. Described as “book and music dealer in Dusseldorf.” Ran the music store/lending company Beyer & Co, later renamed Bayrhoffer. His firm printed the manuscript paper that Schumann and Dietrich used in their movements of the F-A-E Sonata of 1853, and six letters from this period survive from Wilhelm Bayrhoffer to Schumann. Wilhelm Bayhoffer married Anna Catharina Wilhelmine Meyer (Dusseldorf May 28, 1828-March 27, 1900). They had three sons: Friedrich Wilhelm Philipp (Dusseldorf March 19, 1856-Oct. 17, 1916), Philipp Wilhelm Karl (Dusseldorf May 19, 1859-died there June 21, 1926), and Hermann Daniel Julius (Dusseldorf March 7, 1862- death unknown). This information from Last accessed on May 15, 2021

3. In Leipzig Bayrhoffer was the cellist in the March 11, 1878 premiere of George Chadwick’s Piano Trio in C minor, with violinist Edwin Reim and Chadwick as pianist. Bill F. Faucett, George Whitefield Chadwick: The Life and Music of the Pride of New England (Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press, 2012), p. 55

4. Per Bayrhoffer's Feb. 1882 application for US citizenship, on Last accessed May 14, 2021

5. BSO Subscription Series, Season 1 (1881-2), week 8, Boston Music Hall, Dec. 9 and 10, 1881. Results for "Carl Bayrhoffer" on Performance History Search at

6. Boston Globe, Sunday, Dec. 11, 1881, p. 3

7. Boston Journal, Monday, Dec. 12, 1881, p. 4

8. Boston Herald, Sunday, Dec. 11, 1881, p. 8

9. “Mr. Carl Bayrhoffer …has reached a high point of virtuosity, and the technical difficulties of his work were passed over with an ease and simplicity that made them appear as no difficulties at all. Admirably in tune always, chromatic passages, long roulades and trills, and double-stops seemed to flow out from under his fingers, rather than be produced by them. But his tone is not sympathetic and not always even agreeable; it is clear, but there is a stringiness about it often which is vastly provoking as not being what we feel it right to expect from so excellent an executant. In the second selection, which is melodious and well turned, he was heard to more advantage in this respect.” [description of the concerto follows, and paragraph concludes with:]“…the concerto ends in an allegro, in leading up to which Mr. Bayrhoffer drew from his instrument a group of low tones of much smoothness and steadiness.” Boston Daily Advertiser, Monday, Dec. 12, 1881, p. 4

10. On Sunday, Sept. 10, 1882, Bayrhoffer was one of 9 soloists on a “Concert at the Metropolitan Alcazar”. He “played an Adagio by Romberg fairly well.” New York Herald, Sept. 11, 1882, p. 5

11. See New York College of Music ad with announcement of a chamber music soiree at the College on Nov. 1, with Herren Ed. Neupert, Ed. Heimendahl, and Bayrhoffer. New York Times, Sunday, Oct. 12, 1884. Program of the soiree was Smetana Piano Trio in G minor, Rubinstein songs with Miss Lizzie Thomas, and Mendelssohn C minor Piano Trio. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday, Oct. 19, 1884, p. 5

12. During the 1885-6 season, Bayrhoffer assisted pianist The Chevalier Antoine de Kontski (on his Nov. 13 Chickering Hall recital, playing “a couple of violin solos [sic],” per New York Herald, Nov. 14, 1885, p. 3), the Carri brothers (on their Nov. 26 Chickering Hall concertassisting, per NY Herald, Nov. 26, 1885. p. 1), and Ovide Musin (on his Dec. 1 concert at Steinway Hall, per NY Herald, Nov. 30, 1885, p. 2)

13. Frank Van Der Stucken's Sunday afternoon concert concerts at Steinway Hall were “a welcome and appreciated feature of a New York Sunday.” The Nov. 29, 1885 program included Massenet’s “Les Eriunyea” – “Mr. Bayrhoffer played the religious scene and invocation as a violoncello solo very effectively.” NY Herald, Nov. 30, 1885, p. 5

14. “Music by a New Quartet”. “The newly formed instrumental quartet from the Damrosch orchestra, consisting of W. E. Heimdahl, (first violin,) Max Bendix (viola,) Carl Bayrhoffer, (violoncello,) and Frank Kaltenborn, (second violin,) gave a pleasant musicale at the Press Club last night. The selections played consisted of many well known movements from Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Raff… Mr. Marshall P. Wilder also assisted…with several humorous sketches.” NY Times, Sunday, Jan. 10, 1886, p. 9

15. Bayrhoffer's own words, from his 1891 application for renewal of his US passport, on Last accessed on May 14, 2021

16. One of Bayrhoffer's earliest Glascow appearances was as "Second Violoncello" among the “Artistes” led by First Violin Maurice Sons for the Nov. 9, 1893, Chamber Concert under the auspices of the Scottish Orchestra Company. Julius Schwanzara was First Violoncello. They performed the Schubert C Major String Quintet, “a hard enough nut to crack, both for players and for hearers...” Glasgow Herald, ad on Nov. 8, 1893, p. 1, and review on Nov. 10, 1893, p. 6

17. “George Henschel” in The Musical Times, March 1, 1900, p. 156

18. see note 16

19. “Mr Leo Taussig, the new leader of the ’cellos in the Scottish Orchestra, played two of Popper’s favourite blends of cheap melody and the higher technique—the “Vito” and the “Spinning Song”—and proved himself a very highly accomplished virtuoso.” Glasgow Herald, Nov. 30, 1894, p. 5

20. Notice that "Herr C. Bayrhoffer, principal ’cello of the Scottish Orchestra, has returned to town" in Glasgow Herald, Oct. 3, 1896, p. 2. A similar notice on Oct. 14, 1896 indicates he was giving both cello and piano lessons

21. An untitled item on the occasion of the BSO's 30th anniversary states that “Carl Bayrhoffer... today is the principal ’cello of Glasgow Orchestra, and is considered on the greatest masters of his instrument in Great Britain.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 8, 1911, p. 25

22. See for example the commentary on a 1904 Dusseldorf composer’s concert of Bayrhoffer's songs and cello pieces, Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, 71.Jahrgang No. 30/31 27.7.1904, p. 553 the 1906 report of a series of four Dusseldorf chamber music evenings with Dr. Rabl, W. Nagel, and C. Bayrhoffer, performing Haydn and Beethoven trios, Musikalisches Wochenblatt XXXVII, No 4 1 25 1906 and a 1917 Dusseldorf program with Bayrhoffer as cello soloist

23. See note 2

24. Five Songs Without Words, published jointly by Otto Wernthal (Magdeburg) and Ascherberg & Co (London)

25. "Wiegenlied," cello version published in The Mortimer Album No. 15 of solos for cello and piano, Ascherberg Hopwood & Crew, ca. 1915; the same publisher brought out many of the same solos in 1892 as Vol. 59 of Music Lover's Library

26. Also published by Ascherberg & Co. “We had occasion to review, some time ago, several little compositions written by the same composer. We then expressed ourselves most favorably, and the little piece now before us fully confirms the views we have taken. Key C major. (III)” [III is “moderately difficult, does not go higher than the third position”] Supplement to The Violin Times, August 1898, p. 198

27. See Carl Bayrhoffer on WorldCat:

28. See note 22

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