José Maria - profile

José Maria Blumenschein

1st violin

What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO?

The uncompromising nature of the group is really inspiring to me. The passion and the energy level in every single concert is the reason I adore playing with them.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Coordinating the conductor, my own group, the first violin section and the rest of the orchestra while playing the instrument. It’s a lot of multitasking. 

What is the best thing about being a musician?

To be able to be profoundly touched by playing, experiencing emotions felt by composers sometimes hundreds of years in the past.

The first piece of music you fell in love with:

The Tchaikovsky violin concerto is the sole reason I wanted to play the violin. Ironically my absolute favourite bit was the orchestra tutti without the solo violin.

What would you do if you weren't a musician?

Perhaps I would have studied quantum mechanics.


José Maria Blumenschein, a native of Freiburg (Germany) born of Brazilian parents, currently serves as the first concertmaster of the WDR Radio Symphony Orchestra in Cologne and shares a concertmaster position at the Mahler Chamber Orchestra after serving as associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra for three seasons. During his tenure with WDR, he also took two seasons off to perform as the first concertmaster of the Vienna State Opera and Philharmonic.

As a passionate leader, he regularly performs with orchestras and ensembles such as the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Symphony Orchestra, Bayerische Staatsoper, Dresden Staatskapelle,  and NDR Radio Orchestra.
Mr Blumenschein is also a founding member of ‘Kammermusik Köln’, a chamber music series in Cologne founded by members of WDR Radio, Gürzenich Orchestra, and Cologne Conservatory members to be the first all-year chamber music series.

Born in 1985, Mr Blumenschein received his first violin lesson at the age of four in Freiburg, Germany, at the “Pflüger Institute for Highly Gifted Children”. In 1990 he began studies with Vera Kramarowa in Mannheim. In 2001, Mr Blumenschein was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with conductor and violinist Joseph Silverstein and served as concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

José Maria Blumenschein has been performing with the Mahler Orchestra for almost two decades. Since 2023, he shares the MCO’s concertmaster position with Matthew Truscott.