Kurt Reher was born in Hamburg, Germany, of a musical family that moved to Los Angeles when he was one. Kurt began taking violin lessons in New York at an early age, then switched to cello at the age of eight so that he could form a piano quartet with his violinist father, pianist mother and violist and older brother Sven. He spent three years at the Berlin Academy studying with Emanuel Feuermann and when in 1931 the Rehers returned to Los Angeles, Kurt began his career as a professional musician. In 1934 Otto Klemperer invited him to join the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and ten years later, he was appointed the orchestra’s principal cellist by music director Alfred Wallenstein.
From 1946 to 1958, Kurt was first cellist at 20th Century-Fox studios where Alfred Newman and many other composers wrote cello solos into their scores specifically for him. When he was not working at Fox, Kurt was in constant demand in all areas of commercial music.
In 1958 Kurt returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic as solo cellist and remained there until his retirement in 1974. He made 48 appearances as soloist with the Orchestra. In his final year, he recorded Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote with the Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta for London Records.
During his entire career, Kurt devoted himself to the performance of chamber music. He was one of the founding performers of the influential new music series Monday Evening Concerts, which began as “Evenings on the Roof” in the late 1930’s. He formed and led a cello octet which was a successful ensemble for many years. Kurt died in Los Angeles on July 7, 1976.
His brother Sven writes, “Years of playing chamber music with Kurt in various organizations has been the highlight of my musical life. No one was more sensitive, more musical, and more in control of his instrument that Kurt. What a beautiful person and artist, and what a pleasure to have had rapport musically and socially with one’s own brother.” In 1974 illness struck Kurt and he knew he would not play the cello again. His response was, “I feel that I’ve been awfully lucky to play the instrument successfully all these years. How many other, with just as much, maybe more talent, were denied all the opportunities I’ve had? I’ve been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time…”