Cello Master Class on Producing the Perfect Sound

Cello Master Class on Producing the Perfect Sound

Stephan J Rieckhoff

Llandovery College, Carmarthenshire, (Wales) UK

8th to 13th July 2020

Arrival: 7th July 2020

Last Class: 13th July 2020

Introduction to Perfect Sound production for cellists – other string players welcome.

Participation as auditors.


Stephan J Rieckhoff

How Stephan Rieckhoff presents his master class

The goal when playing an instrument, particularly the cello, is to sing on the instrument.

By hearing a pure song in one’s inner ear in advance we develop a technique that avoids any clenching of the muscles and allows breath to constantly accompany this song.

We must develop the ability to imagine each note first with the greatest care before producing it.

The trap in a more or less good performance is that one can produce sounds with the fingers and the mechanics of the instrument without having thought about it in advance; but in this case the result is always rather unsatisfactory.

The use of muscles and correct movements, combined with mental work and proper breathing, seems to me fundamental to breaking away from technical difficulty and so flying towards the goal: to make music!

My goal is to transmit the pleasure of playing the cello and master daily work so as to progress regularly and without frustration.

If we do not know the rules of practice, we inevitably go down a cul-de-sac, in which we are trapped with all its limitations. Frustration is the guaranteed result.

The rules of practising depend on technique: and everyone can learn the technique with a little patience, concentration and a good ear.

Only after mastering this technique can you create real music.

Stephan Johannes Rieckhoff - CV
Born in Plochingen/Stuttgart (Germany ) in 1953, Stefan discovered happiness while « making music » within his own family at an early age.

His musical abilities were recognised at the age of 10 and he was invited to join the two orchestras in his native town of  Marburg, the Gymnase and Kammerorchester, as First Cello.

When 13 and 15 years old he entered the  Bundes-wettbewerb “Jugend musiziert competition and won his two first prizes for cello solo and for Trio with piano.

He then went for further studies in Detmold with André Navarra and in Freiburg with Prof. Christoph Henke.

He learned a lot from his mentors: Pierre Fournier, Janos Starker, Alexandre Stein, Werner Thomas – Mifune etc.

At 23 he was invited to play as leader of the cellos in the “Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim” under Paul Angerer.

Two years later he was invited by Rafael Kubelik to join the “Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks” in Munich. He stayed there for 6 years.

His life was enlightened through meeting great artists of this period – amongst them Leonard Bernstein – with whom he formed a relationship that had a serious influence on his life,  Mstislav Rostropovitch, Giulini, Celibidache, Ozawa, Muti etc. All helped to nurture his passion for playing and teaching the cello.

In 1984 he became First cello in the ’OSR, Suisse Romande Orchestra in Geneva /Sutz.

He also performs with the Bachcollegium Münchenthe Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim and other orchestras. He also plays in chamber music groups and especially with his pianist brother Leonhard Rieckhoff.

His philosophy of music and the cello

  • One needs to feel happy while playing.
  • Technique needs to become so easy that it makes room for expression and listening without restraint.

In his teaching he uses:

  • Improvisation techniques for breathing and singing,
  • body balance and unity without clenching the instrument (being one with the instrument),
  • flexibility in all technical approaches and focussing one’s energy in the right part of the body,
  • development of mental work which allows him to think ahead on several levels simultaneously as the primary key to the path of development,
  • a method by which each step is as easy as a fascinating game.

His philosophy in brief: Your instrument is your best friend for life


What Stephen thinks about music

What you need to be a musician:

You need to be able to listen

You need to imagine what is meant

You need to desire to live the music

You need to understand that music is only beautiful and real if it is as perfect as possible

You need to understand that to achieve this beauty you need patience and the will to structure your work path

You need to avoid unnecessary movement, gestures, muscles that block this path

You need to practice perfect movements

You need to assume that each note will be perfect

You need to breathe so as to accompany the singing which is within you and so as to give yourself the utmost energy when singing.


Stephan teaches in German, French, Spanish or English.


Stephan Rieckhoff in Saint Saëns Cello concerto

Liebesleid Kreisler String Trio

Stephan Rieckhoff (cello) in Bewegt” – by Michael Proksch

Fracanapa — Piazzola.wmv

HINDEMITH, Quinteto de Clarinete, Op. 30

Beethoven, trio Op11

Course Schedule

8th and 9th

  • Morning masterclass 2 hours
  • Afternoon Seminar – 2 hours. Stephan Rieckhoff will choose a few student cellists to be taught in public

10th, 11th, 12th and 13th July

  • one hour of one to one tuition for registered cellists – (7 places maximum)

How to Apply

This course can be added to your regular 3 weeks LMFL Llandovery course or chosen as a single, stand-alone unit.

Application requires us to have access a short video the applicant playing to be sent by WhatsApp to +44 4082 3078

Add to LMFL Course

Seminars + one-to-one tuition (4 sessions) for registered students £550

Select Cello Master Class + Main Course (3 weeks) on page 2 of the form.

Stand Alone Course

Seminars + one-to-one tuition (4 sessions) £650

Seminar Only – open to everyone £200