Principal timpanist of the Staatskapelle Berlin since
Member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra since 2003
My thoughts about being a timpanist
I grew up in a family of musicians. My father was
the conductor of a symphonic brass ensemble where I
started playing at the age of 8. First I played drums,
but fast I realised that I wanted to play timpani.
At the age of 14 I began my studies with Ernst Göbler
in Düsseldorf at the Robert-Schumann Institute. Ernst
Göbler was a great musician and I loved the way he played
the timpani. He was the trigger in my brain and my heart
to become a solo-timpani player in a famous orchestra
one day. Working with Rainer Seegers consolidated this
After Ernst-Wilhelm Hilgers completed his studies
at the Robert-Schumann-Institut Düsseldorf (Class of
Ernst Göbler) and at the School of Music Cologne (Class
of Wenzel Pricha) he started his professional career
at the Berliner Philharmoniker as a member of the Karajanstiftung
(teacher: Rainer Seegers).
Before he became a member of the Staatskapelle Berlin
- Staatsoper Unter den Linden - in 1998 he was engaged
at the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen and
the Nationaltheater Mannheim.
Since 2003 he spends his summers in Bavaria playing
with the Bayreuth-Festival-Orchestra or at the Bayerische
Also he is a steady extra as timpanist at the Bayerische
Staatsoper München, the Radio Symphonieorchester Berlin,
the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Bach Collegium Stuttgart
Since Ernst-Wilhelm Hilgers enjoys working with young
people he became a teacher at the Orchester Akademie
Staatskapelle Berlin and the Universität der Künste
Hardtke Berlin Classic with classic heavier bowls,
6 sizes: 81-74-72-65-62-58 cm
(32” 29” 28” 25½” 25” 24½” 23”)
Why I play the Hardtke Timpani
Timpani is so much more than just a percussion instrument!
For me the sound is one of the most important features.
That’s why I fell in love with the Hardtke timpani.
They combine wonderful sound, amazing dynamics, easy
handling, great looks and precise mechanics of the fine
tuning and pedal with an extraordinary service. I can
always rely on Mr. Hardtke and his staff completely.
Breier, Rosenthal, Offelder, Kappert, Weißerth, Bayer
I prefer Kalfo calf skin heads