Fred Bretschger joined The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1980. Originally from New York, he began playing the bass at age 16. Bretschger attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, Cleveland Institute of Music and The Juilliard School. In 1976, he joined the Buffalo Philharmonic and became principal bassist of the Indianapolis Symphony in 1978. During the 1990–91 season, he took a sabbatical from the SPCO to serve as principal bassist with the Houston Symphony. Bretschger appeared as a guest artist with the Chicago Chamber Players, Los Angeles Piano Quartet, Strings in the Mountains and Bravo! music festival. He also performed at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Grand Teton, Santa Fe Opera and Bach Dancing and Dynamite Festivals. Since 1993, Bretschger has been on the performing faculty at the Sarasota Music Festival.
He taught at the Summer String Academy at Indiana University in 1998 and 1999. Bretschger is a composer and arranger, and has conducted at the Grand Teton Music Festival, University of Minnesota and Spectrum Contemporary Ensemble. In 2000, Bretschger led a production of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale at the Cactus Pear Festival. His composition Fantasy Duo for Cello and Bass has been performed around the country.