1991 San Francisco rehearsal of Beethoven Symphony No. 9


early career 

Samuel Cristler with MTT and Leonard Bernstein, 1983

Mr. Cristler began his musical career as a cellist, joining the Phoenix Symphony at age 17.  At 20, he toured North America playing cello solos for Rudolf Nureyev and, that summer, he was appointed the first student cellist in the Aspen Festival Orchestra.  At twenty-one, he became the youngest member of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Music Director William Steinberg. Three years later he joined the Eastman faculty and became principal cellist of the Rochester Philharmonic.  While there, he also appeared as soloist in virtually the entire standard cello concerto repertoire.  He recorded the cello solo in Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus with David Zinman conducting, and performed the cello solo in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with pianist Eugene Istomin.  In 1980, Mr. Cristler was invited to make his New York recital debut at the Frick Collection; his program included Elliot Carter’s Cello Sonata, Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F Major, opus 99, George Rochberg’s Ricordanza and its companion opus, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4 in C, opus 102, No. 1.  

As chamber musician, Mr. Cristler has performed with Lynn Harrell, Jan DeGaetani, Shlomo Mintz, Joseph Frank, Geraldine Walther, the Cleveland Quartet, and many other artists and ensembles.  A special honor is a composition dedicated to him by the eminent German composer, Aribert Reimann, which became required repertoire for the Munich International Cello Competition.  

Mr. Cristler is grateful to his extraordinary teachers, who include cellists Takayori Atsumi and Lynn Harrell; and conductors Dr. Kenneth Seipp, Dr. William Steinberg, James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Bernstein.  

Mr. Cristler speaks fluent German, French and Italian.  He makes his home in New York City.