Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (1932 - 2013)

The Distinguished Scandinavian Cellist

A larger-than-life sized bronze statue of ERLING BLÖNDAL BENGTSSON stands in front of Reykjavik´s Concert hall "Harpa" in Iceland´s capital city.

The statue, by the Icelandic sculptress Olöf Pálsdottir, is the testimonial to the esteem in which the legendary cellist is held by all of Scandinavia.












ERLING BLÖNDAL BENGTSSON, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, gave his first concert at the age of four.












Backstage, - first concert with orchestra, 1942, Tivoli, Copenhagen, with conductor THOMAS JENSEN.


     ERLING BLÖNDAL BENGTSSON performed extensively throughout Europe, the United States, South America and Russia.

     He has appeared with most of the world´s leading orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Salzburg´s Mozarteum Orchestra, the Hague´s Residentie Orchestra under the direction of many of the contemporary leading maestros, such as Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, David Zinmann, Sixten Ehrling, Herbert Blomstedt, Sergiu Commissiona.

     His repertoire was all-encompassing and he has championed the works of leading Scandinavian composers, as well as performing the Scandinavian premieres of cello concertos by Britten, Barber, Khatchaturian, Delius, Lutoslawsky and Walton and, indeed, the latter two, themselves, conducted several performances each with Mr. Bengtsson as soloist.

     A consistent recording artist, with over 50 albums, he has, along with the complete standard repertoire for cello and orchestra, recorded many contemporary concertos, most of which were dedicated to him. In 1985, his recordings of the six Cello Suites of J.S. Bach on the Danish label DANACORD, was selected as "The choice of the year" by the American recording magazine Fanfare. In 1998 his recording of the Zoltán Kodály Solo Sonata, was chosen by the "GUINNESS CLASSICAL 1000" as being one of the top 1000 recordings of all time.

     At the age 16, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson was accepted by the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he took up studies with Gregor Piatigorsky. One year later, he became Piatigorsky´s instructing assistant and the following year became a faculty member of the Curtis Institute.












Pencildrawing by Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky, 1949.


     A world-class performer who also enjoyed pedagogy, Mr Bengtsson became a role model for a whole family of young cellists in Europe and abroad. During the course of a career spanning five decades, he has been on the faculties of the leading conservatories of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Cologne.

     Since 1986, duo with the pianist Nina Kavtaradze.

     In 1990, he returned to the United States as a full professor at the School of Music of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In order to concentrate on concertizing and giving masterclasses, he stepped down from this position in 2006.



      Erling Blöndal Bengtsson has been awarded the Knight, first class, of the Order of Dannebrog in Denmark. From Iceland he was awarded the Grand Knight of the Order of the Falcon.

       He was member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and has been awarded the English Hyam Morrison Gold Medal for Cello. In 1993 he was honored with the title "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by Indiana University, School of Music, Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center. He was on the board of Directors of "Symphonicum Europae" New York, 1997. 

       Honored with an "AWARD OF DISTINCTION" at the International CELLO Festival, RNCM Manchester, 2001.

       Named "Premier Master Cellist 2005" by the Detroit Cello Society, U.S.A.  

       In 2013 honored with the prestigious "Jón Sigurdsson Award" by the Icelandic government, Althingi.

      The same year, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson dies at his home in Michigan on June the 6th. He is buried in Iceland.