Ernst-Wilhelm Hilgers

Principal timpanist of the Staatskapelle Berlin since 1998. Member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra since 2003

Timpanist Ernst-Wilhelm Hilgers

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 decision.

My career

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 Staatsoper München.

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 (Helmuth Rilling).

Since Ernst-Wilhelm Hilgers enjoys working with young people he became a teacher at the Orchester Akademie Staatskapelle Berlin and the Universität der Künste Berlin.

My Timpani

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.

My Mallets

Breier, Rosenthal, Offelder, Kappert, Weißerth, Bayer and Brenner

Timpani Heads

I prefer Kalfo calf skin heads.