Anssi Karttunen cellist

Anssi Karttunen performs all the standard cello works, has discovered many forgotten masterpieces and transcribed numerous pieces for cello, or chamber ensembles. He is a passionate advocate of contemporary music and his collaboration with composers has led him to give over 200 world premieres of works by composers as diverse as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, Pascal Dusapin, Luca Francesconi and Tan Dun.

Karttunen has premiered 31 works for cello and orchestra, among them: Magnus Lindberg's 2 Cello Concertos, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Concerto "Mania", Tan Dun's Cello Concerto "Yi1", Luca Francesconi's Cello Concerto "Rest" or Jukka Tiensuu's "Oire". Kaija Saariaho's Concerto "Notes on Light" was a Boston Symphony Orchestra commission for Anssi Karttunen. In October 2018 he gave the premiere of Betsy Jolas's "Side Roads" with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra..

Karttunen plays in the Zebra Trio with the Austrian violinist Ernst Kovacic and Canadian viola player Steven Dann. He appears in recitals with Magnus Lindberg and Nicolas Hodges. With the multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones Karttunen has two groups: Sons of Chipotle and Tres Coyotes.

He plays with many of the best orchestras of the world and in recitals and chamber music at major festivals in Europe: Edinburgh, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Spoleto, Berlin, Venice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Helsinki etc..

The CD´s of Anssi Karttunen range from Bach on a Violoncello Piccolo, Beethoven on a classical cello and 20th-Century works for solo cello to concertos with London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Sony Classical issued CDs of the Concertos of Lindberg, Saariaho and Salonen. Deutsche Grammophon issued a DVD of Tan Dun's The Map for cello, video and Orchestra and a CD of Henri Dutilleux's Cello Concerto (Grammophon Award 2013). Recent CDs include also Brahms's Chamber Music and a solo recital on Toccata Classics, Saariaho Trios and Lindberg Cello music on Ondine, Tangos on Albany Records and Colin Matthews's Cello Concerto 2 for NMC.

Between 1994 and 1998 he was the artistic director of the Avanti!-Chamber Orchestra. He was the artistic director of the 1995 Helsinki Biennale and the Suvisoitto-festival in Porvoo, Finland from 1994 to 1997. From 1999 to 2005 Anssi Karttunen was the principal cellist of the London Sinfonietta. He was the artistic director of the Musica nova Helsinki festival in 2015.

Anssi Karttunen also performs as a conductor. He has conducted Lindberg's Kraft with the Flanders Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic cello ensemble, the Gaida Ensemble in Vilnius, NJO String Orchestra etc.

He is a founding member of Petals, a non-profit organisation for the production and sale of CDs and scores on the Internet. His transcriptions include Brahms's Piano Quintet for String Quintet and Händel-Variations op. 24 for String Trio, Schumann's Cello Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra and Album for the Young for String Trio many of them available through

His teachers included Erkki Rautio, William Pleeth, Jacqueline du Pré and Tibor de Machula. He teaches at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Karttunen plays a cello by Francesco Ruggeri, Cremona circa 1670.


Orchestras Karttunen performs with:

Philadelphia Orchestra

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Boston Symphony Orchestra

St. Louis Symphony

New World Symphony

eco Ensemble

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Philharmonia Orchestra

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Opera House Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

BBC Scottish Orchestra

Scottish National Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

London Sinfonietta

Orchestre de Paris

Orchestre National de France

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France

Ensemble Orchestral de Paris

Orchestre National de Pays de Loire

Orchestre d'Auvergne


DSO Berlin

Konzerthausorchester Berlin

Berliner Symphoniker

NDR Orchestra

Hamburg Philharmonic

Hessischer Rundfunk Orchestra

SWR Orchestra

Munich Philharmonic

Munich Chamber Orchestra

Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Ensemble Modern

Royal Goncertgebouw Orchestra

Rotterdam Philharmonic

Residentie Orchestra

Dutch Radio Symphony

Dutch Radio Philharmonic

Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra

Asko|Schönberg Ensemble

NJO Symphony Orchestra

Nieuw Ensemble

RAI Torino

Filarmonica della Scala

Orchestra della Toscana

La Fenice Orchestra

Luxembourg Philharmonic

Flanders Symphony

Antwerp Symphony

Belgian Radio Orchestra

NHK Orchestra

Tokyo Philharmonic

Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra

Hong Kong Sinfonietta

Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra

Shanghai Symphony

Beijing Symphony

Taipei Chinese Orchestra

Singapore Symphony Orhestra

Barcelona Opera Orchestra

Barcelona Symphony Orchestra

Navarra Symphony Orchestra

Bilbao Symphony Orchestra

Barcelona 216 Ensemble

Filarmónica de Buenos Aires

Orquesta Municipal de Caracas

Sinfonica Simon Bolivar de Caracas

Polish Radio Orchestra

Wroclaw Philharmonic

Latvian National Orchestra

Lithuanian National Orchestra

Swedish Radio Orchestra

Norrköping Symphony Orchestra

Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra

Karlstad Orchestra

Danish Radio Orchestra

Athelas Sinfonietta

Oslo Philharmonic

Finnish Radio Orchestra

Helsinki Philharmonic

Turku Philharmonic Orchestra

Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra

Joensuu Symphony Orchestra

Jyväskylä City Orchestra

Sinfonia Lahti

Oulu Sinfonia

Kuopio Symphony Orchestra

Pori City Orchestra

Lappeenranta City Orchestra

Mikkeli City Orchestra

Kymi Sinfonietta

Avanti!-Chamber Orchestra

Lapland Chamber Orchestra

Kaija Saariaho

Tan Dun

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Some of the composers Anssi Karttunen works with:

Magnus Lindberg

The Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen leads a busy career as a soloist and chamber-music player, performing extensively with many of the leading orchestras and musicians.

photos © Muriel von Braun

Betsy Jolas