Cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker made her international breakthrough with her sensational success at the 8th Rostropovich Competition in Paris in November 2005, where she became the first contestant in the event's history to win both first prize and two special prizes. Since then Hecker has become one of the most sought-after soloists and chamber musicians of the younger generation, recognised for her deep intensity of expression and natural affinity for the cello, with Die Zeit describing her playing as "heartbreakingly sad and instinctively beautiful".
Born in 1987 in Robert Schumann's hometown of Zwickau, Hecker developed a passion for music early on in her life and began learning the cello at the age of five, with the distinguished German cellist Peter Bruns becoming her principal teacher. She continued her studies with Heinrich Schiff and subsequently took part in masterclasses with eminent figures such as Anner Bylsma, Frans Helmerson, Bernard Greenhouse, Gary Hoffman and Steven Isserlis. Early recognition came when she won Germany's important "Jugend musiziert" competition at the age of twelve, followed by the special prize at the 2001 Dotzauer Competition and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2009.
Among the highlights of her career to date are performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Filarmonica della Scala, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Dresden Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, annover, Hannover, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Spanish National Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin and Vienna Symphony Orchestra, partnering conductors such as Marc Albrecht, Barenboim, Gergiev, Gullberg Jensen, Harding, Hengelbrock, Herreweghe, Janowski, Kreizberg, Krivine, Luisi, Nagano, Saraste, Solyom, Thielemann, Venzago and von Dohnányi. In addition, she has appeared in recitals in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Florence, London (Wigmore Hall), Lucerne, Madrid, Milan, Munich, New York (Carnegie Hall), Paris, Vancouver and Verbier. This season, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker makes her Schubertiade recital debut as well as her debut with the Staatskapelle Weimar and Stefan Solyom, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine with Sascha Goetzel, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin with Marek Janowski, HR Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Jeremie Rhorer, Orchestre des Champs Elysées with Philippe Herreweghe, Münchener Kammerorchester with Alexander Liebreich, Orchestre de L'Opera National Paris with Philippe Jordan, Berner Sinfonieorchester with Josep Pons and returns to the Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev. In chamber music concerts she appears with her husband Martin Helmchen, Veronika Eberle and Antoine Tamestit in Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris.
In co-operation with Music Road Rwanda Marie-Elisabeth Hecker regularly travels to Rwanda in order to support a local music school with concerts and educational projects.
Marie-Elisabeth Hecker plays on a Luigi Bajoni cello of 1864.