George Szell appointed Setzer to the orchestra's second violin section in 1949; in 1977, Lorin Maazel promoted him to first assistant principal second violin, a post he held until his retirement in 1990.
According to the Plain Dealer, Setzer was a friendly and collegial member of the orchestra, who also gave frequent chamber music concerts with the Symphonia Quartet, composed of Cleveland Orchestra players.
Setzer was born in 1920, in Jacksonville, Florida. At the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, he studied with Oscar Shumsky and met Marie De Maria, also a Shumsky student. Elmer served in the Army Band as a French hornist in Germany during World War II, then married Marie in 1945. They both played with the Baltimore Symphony before Elmer joined the Cleveland Orchestra in 1949. Marie (who died last October) joined the orchestra in 1961.
Their two sons also entered the music business; Philip is a violinist in the Emerson String Quartet and Marc is a choral instructor in Charlotte, North Carolina.