Thomas Beckmann comes from a music-loving family in Düsseldorf. His great-grandfather was trumpeter in the military and received a silver trumpet from the emperor for his beautiful play. His older brother Hannes lives in Munich and is a recognized jazz violonist.
Already during his music studies Beckmann’s exceptional giftedness became noticeable and still as a student he was engaged as a solo cellist in various professional orchestras. In the year 1980 he became master pupil of Pierre Fournier , one of the most important cellist of the 20th century.
Fournier bequeathed his extensive note library to his favourite pupil . This is a treasure due to its bibliographic value and even more because of the master’s handwritten notes in it. Today the important collection is kept at not less representative of places: Beckmann lives in the dwelling of Clara and Robert Schumann in the old part of Duesseldorf, which the municipality Duesseldorf has provided to him for the sake of honour.
After Fourniers of death in the year 1986 Beckmann performed in larger scale publicly. He went on Europe-wide tours under the slogan “Oh! That cello”, combining classical sonates with small classical works and pieces by Charlie Chaplin. This followed a recorded under the same name, featuring Chaplins miniatures for violoncello for the first time.
Beckmann made four CDs. “Oh! That cello”, “Thomas Beckmann – Charlie Chaplin” and “Short Pieces for the cello” became the most successful cello recording in shortest time in 27 countries. “Oh! That cello” was awarded with ” German Prize of Record Critics”. “Beckmann plays cello” is a live recording of Beckmann’s concert in the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, where he ended his benefit concerttour through 32 German cities on 13.04.2000. The completely sold out recital was the first concert broadcasted from the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall in the internet.
From 1986 to 1991 Beckmann undertook expanded tours under the title “Beckmann plays cello” and performed in numerous large venues. In the year 1989 alone he performed at 207 (!) concerts. In this period he had a highly praised concert tour through the former Soviet Union. The last concert in the Muscovite culture palace was described by the “Moscow Press” as follows:
Many were so touched that they cried. After the last encore “Elegie” the culture palace transformed into a true witch boiler. The audience jumped on the seats and tore the program to confetti.
In December 1995 Beckmann performed with its wife, the pianist Kayoko Matsushita, in the Parisian “Theatre Mac Mahon” near the Champs Elysee. The concert was so successful that it had to be repeated over 2 weeks with two shows per day. Returning back from Paris the artists suffered a heavy car accident.. The car, but also the valuable Guadagnini cello were wrecked. Beckmann calls the event a key experience, giving him to grow the homeless project TOGETHER AGAINST COLD nationwide.
An other sign of fate was the revealation of a hidden inscription on the cello while it was being repaired: “IL Mendicante” (“the beggar”). The legendary instrument from the Milanese period (approx. 1750) of the violin-maker Giambattista Guadagnini (1711-1786) belonged to a Parisian beggar in the last century. This cello was found in a roof room after his death next to some rather inferior violins. Although repeatedly offered high sums for the cello, the amateur cellist kept this special instrument because of its enormous volume and its inspired sound and wasn’t going to even give it to get out of poverty.
“IL Mendicante” unfolded its orchestrale sound volume and its Pianissimo in the largest churches and concert halls of Germany: In the years 1996-99 it sounded in more than 100 concerts and benefit events, in which the artist played in favor of homeless people humans solo suites of Johann Sebastian Bach. For their musical and social work Beckmann and his wife were bestowed with the European social price, the Order of Merit, the Kiwanis price and the Lorenz Werthmann medal. The latter is the highest honor , presented by the German Caritas and has only been lent once in the recent past.
Many people are still little common with the cello as solo instrument. Its fascinating warm sound deserves a large public: With a sound register spanning five octaves, the violoncello is one of the most varied and most colored instruments. With his sold-out concerts and popular television appearances Beckmann managed to inspire millions of listeners for this instrument.