Born: March 1, 1832 - Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Died: February 23, 1903 - Dresden, Saxony, Germany
The distinguished German violoncellist and composer, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Grützmacher, was a son of a musician. He was first taught by his father. Soon he began studying with Dotzauer's pupil, Dreschler. In 1848 he went to Leipzig, where he at once attracted the notice of the famous violinist, Ferdinand David, who arranged some concerts for him. In 1849, when only 17, he became solo cellist in the Leipzig theatre orchestra, the Gewandhaus Concerts, and professor at the Conservatorium there. He played in the David String Quartet.
In 1860 Friedrich Grützmacher was called to Dresden as 'Kammer-Virtuos' to the King of Saxony. He became principal cellist of the Court Orchestra, and head of the Dresden Musical Society. In 1877 he became a professor at the Dresden Conservatory. He was leading light in cello performance in the second half of the 19th century. He concertized in most of the northern capitals of Europe and in Russia, where he became a friend of the famous cellist Davidov. In 1867 and 1868 he was in England, playing at the Philharmonic (May 20, 1867), Musical Union and Crystal Palace. He played the first performance of Richard Strauss's Don Quixote in Cologne in 1898. He was the teacher of Fitzenhagen (of thumb position fame), and Hugo Becker (whose etudes are still used).
Friedrich Grützmacher's compositions embrace orchestral and chamber pieces, songs, etc., besides concertos and other compositions for the violoncello. His exercises and studies are specially valuable (Tägliche Übungen and Technologie des Violoncellospiels, used in the Leipzig Conservatorium). We are also indebted to him for many careful editions of standard works (Beethoven's sonatas for pianoforte and violoncello, Romberg's concertos, Boccherini's sonatas, etc.), and for the revival of some forgotten works of considerable interest. He is most famous today for taking samples of four different works to form his edition of Boccherini's Concerto in B flat, still being published and performed. He was also guilty of "rearranging" Bach's Suites, which he completely reorganized with additional chords, passages and embellishments. His cadenzas for Boccherini and the Haydn D Major are effective, and often performed to this day.
As a teacher Friedrich Grützmacher formed number of fine players of all the nations of Europe. Of his pupils his brother Leopold (1834-1900) was one of the most remarkable. He was for many years first violoncello in the Meiningen orchestra.