Principal Cellists of the BSO

Principal Cellists of the BSO

The appointment of Blaise Déjardin in 2018 as the BSO’s fourteenth principal cellist inspired the idea of organizing a case that provides an overview of BSO’s principal cellists dating back to the orchestra’s founding in 1881. It is interesting to note that while there were ten principals during the first 38 years of the BSO’s history (Alwin Schroeder served twice), there have only been four principal cellists since 1919! In addition, the case includes information about the first women members of the cello section and features several photographs of the cello section over the years.

Cellists-ExhibitPrincipal Cellists of the BSO
Wulf Fries, 1881-1882
Carl Bayrhoffer, 1882
Wilhelm Muller, 1882-1884
Fritz Giese, 1884-1889
Anton Hekking, 1889-1891
Alwin Schroeder, 1891-1903
Rudolf Krasselt,1903-1905
Heinrich Warnke, 1905-1910
Alwin Schroeder, 1910-1912
Heinrich Warnke, 1912-1918
Joseph Malkin, 1918-1919
Jean Bedetti, 1919-1948
Samuel Houston Mayes, 1948-1964
Jules Eskin, 1964-2016
Blaise Déjardin, 2018-present


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Featured Photographs
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Wulf Christian Julius Fries (1825-1902)
BSO principal cello, 1881-1882

Born in Garbeck, Germany, Fries was mainly self-taught. After playing in the Bergen theater orchestra in Norway and then at Old Bull’s concerts, he settled in Boston in 1847, where he was a founder-member of the Beethoven Quartet. He was appointed to the faculty of the New England Conservatory in 1869 and the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1889.
Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928)
BSO principal cello, 1891-1903; 1910-1912

He also served as a member of the BSO’s cello section from 1918 to 1925. Cello students today may recognize him as the author of a compilation of etudes for cellists entitled 170 Foundation Studies for Violoncello.

Philip Hale Collection, Boston Public Library, courtesy Digital Commonwealth
Heinrich Warnke (1871-1938)
BSO principal cello, 1905-1910

The German born Warnke played with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the ‘Kaim’ Orchestra in Munich prior to coming to Boston. In all, he was a member of the BSO cello section from 1905 to 1918.

Photograph by Horner, Boston
Jean Bedetti (1882-1973)
BSO principal cello, 1919-1948

Born in Lyon, France, he studied cello with his father at the Lyon Conservatory before attending the Paris Conservatory.

Photograph by Horner, Boston
Samuel Houston Mayes (1917-1990)
BSO principal cello, 1948-1964

A native of St. Louis, MO, Mayes was the BSO’s first American-born principal cellist. Before he reached his teen years, he was studying with Felix Salmond at the Curtis Institute of Music, graduating in 1937. Leopold Stokowski appointed him principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1938, a position he held until Koussevitzky invited him to become the BSO’s principal cellist in 1948. He gave the American premiere of Kabalevsky’s first cello concerto with the BSO in 1961, with the composer conducting.

Photographer unknown
Jules Eskin (1931-2016)
BSO principal cello, 1964-2016

A native of Philadelphia, Eskin, at 16, was invited by Antal Dorati to join the Dallas Symphony, where he studied with Janos Starker. At Curtis, he studied with Gregor Piatigorsky and Leonard Rose before winning the 1954 Naumburg Foundation Award. As the BSO’s principal cellist, he was also an inaugural member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players.

Photographer unknown
Blaise Déjardin
BSO principal cello, 2018-present

Blaise Déjardin joined the BSO cello section in 2008 and won the principal cello chair in 2018.

Photograph by Michael Blanchard
Enrico Fabrizio (1892-1951)
BSO cello, 1918-1952

A native of Boston, Enrico Fabrizio studied cello in Boston and Europe. At the age of seventeen, he toured the U.S. and Canada as a soloist. He joined the St. Louis Symphony in 1913 and was offered a position in the BSO in 1918. He built cellos and made the cello he played while a member of the BSO.

Photograph by David Nilsson
Winifred Schaefer Winograd (1919- )
BSO cello, 1957-1964

Born in the state of Washington, Winifred studied cello at the Curtis Institute of Music. In 1957, she became the first woman string player to join the BSO. After marrying BSO principal cellist Samuel Mayes, the couple left the BSO to join the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her sister, Lois Schaefer, was the BSO’s piccolo player from 1965 to 1990.

Photograph by Lenscraft Photos, Inc.
Carol Procter (1941- )
BSO cello, 1965-2003

Born in Oklahoma City, Carol Procter grew up in Dedham, MA. She trained as a cellist at the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music where she earned her B.M. (1963) and M.M. (1965). In the summer of 1965, she studied at the Tanglewood Music Center as a Fromm Fellow and joined the ranks of the BSO’s cello section that Fall, becoming the second woman in the section.

Photograph by Photography Incorporated
Martha Babcock
BSO cello, 1973-present

Born in Freeport, Illinois, Martha graduated cum laude from Harvard University. Her cello teachers included Lowell Creitz, Also Parisot, and George Neikrug. Winner of the Piatigorsky Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1972, she began her professional career as a cellist at the age of nineteen, when she became the youngest member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Since joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1973, Martha Babcock has served as the BSO's assistant principal, associate principal, and acting principal cello, as well as principal cello of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Photograph courtesy BSO Archives
BSO cello section, 1881-1882
Two details from the BSO’s first official portrait, show members of the BSO cello section. Carl Bayrhoffer, who replaced Wulf Fries during the second half of the first season, is shown in the top image, far left position. Other members of the cello section for the first season included Carl Behr, Alex Heindl, Max Korth, A.B. Stockbridge, and August Suk.

Photograph by James Notman
BSO cello section, 1962-1963 season
Richard Kapucinski, Robert Ripley, Bernard Parronchi, Mischa Nieland, Winofred Winograd, John Sant’Ambrogio, Alfred Zigera, Karl Zeise, Samuel Mayes, Peter Schenkman, Martin Hoherman, and Louis Berger.

Photographer unknown, gift of Robert Ripley
BSO cello section, ca. 1965-1966 season
By stand (left to right): Martin Hoherman, Jules Eskin; Karl Zeise, Mischa Nieland; Robert Ripley, Richard Kapuscinski; John J. Sant’Ambrogio; Steve Geber, Jascha Silbertsein; and Carol Procter.

Photographer unknown
BSO cello section in Symphony Hall, ca. 1953
By stand, left to right: Alfred Zighera, Samuel Mayes; Mischa Nieland, Jacobus Langendoen; Karl Zeise, Hippolyte Droeghmans; Bernard Parronchi, Josef Zimbler.

Photograph by John Brook


Featured Documents
Click the links below to view the full documents.


Heinrich Warnke, New First Cellist of Symphony Orchestra, Sails in Week (PDF)
Boston Herald | September 8, 1905

Brilliant Symphony Season is Promised for 25th Year of Famous Boston Organization (PDF)
Boston Post | September 26, 1905

Boston Symphony Pioneers (PDF)
Christian Science Monitor | October 3, 1957

These Three, and 101 Men, and You Have the Boston Symphony Orchestra (PDF)
Christian Science Monitor | March 31, 1958