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Who is the greatest cellist of all time?

The cello is a string instrument known for its soulful, singing, almost human voice like sound, and can be found soloing, in chamber music, or as one of the foundation pieces of a symphony orchestra. A number of players have transformed the cello into the solo voice that it is today. But of them, who is the greatest?

Mstislav Rostropovich

Rostropovich was a Russian master, who brought a new technical expertise and musicality to the instrument, and new repertoire into the world.

Premiered the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1

One of the great solo cello pieces, composer Dimitri Shostakovich wrote the concerto for Rostropovich who committed it to memory in 4 days. Explore

Yo-Yo Ma

A modern player, child prodigy, and humanitarian, Yo-Yo has not only elevated the craft but has taken the cello to the masses.

A cross-genera musical explorer

Yo-Yo Ma is known for his musical explorations outside of classical music, from pop, to tango, to bluegrass, to Asian folk music. This versatility across musical generas makes him the greatest. Explore

Pablo Casals

The father of modern cello, Casals helped people to see the cello as a valuable solo instrument.

Casals discovered the Bach cello suites for modern players

Largely forgotten and thought of as a collection of warm up exercises, Casals showed the world the beautiful and genius of this music. Explore

Pablo Casals was a statesman and advocate for peace

Pablo Casals used his musical talents as a platform to address the humanitarian issues of his time. He was bigger than the music he played and connected the peace and joy of music as a way to heal human suffering and injustice. Explore

Jacqueline du Pre

A stunning talent who's musicality, ease, and grace with the instrument won over audiences and musicians alike.

Master of the Elgar Cello Concerto

Her interpretation and performance of the Elgar Cello concerto electrified listeners and defines the piece for other cellists. Explore

Leonard Rose

An amazing performer and as a teacher at Juilliard shaped the next generation of modern cellists.

His teaching established the modern cello

He taught at Juilliard, Curtis, and Meadowmount, with students like Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and Hans Jørgen Jensen. The influence of his thinking and playing is everywhere. Explore

Rose was the principal cellist of two of the world's greatest orchestras

At just 21 and 26 respectively he was the principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic. To be trusted with such a responsibility at a very young age is a spectacular achievement. Explore

He was part of the celebrated Istomin-Stern-Rose trio

Leonard Rose with Isaac Stern (violin) and Eugene Istomin (piano) formed one of the world's greatest piano trios, celebrated for their playing and winning a Grammy for their Beethoven recordings. Explore

János Starker

Known for his pure and intense tone, and opting for the music to excite, Starker was a distinguished professor of music at Indiana University and principal Cellist of the Chicago Symphony.

Musical perfection

Starker believed that much of the performance of music got in the way of the music, like a wide vibrate hiding bad intonation. Starker focused alone on the music. Explore

Gregor Piatigorsky

His career was interwoven with so many of the key musical figures and organizations in the 20th century, from the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Curtis Institute, to his chamber music.

Piatigorsky was the cellist for the "Million Dollar Trio"

Piatigorsky regularly played chamber music with Arthur Rubinstein (piano), and Jascha Heifetz (violin), who together were known as the "Million Dollar Trio" Explore
This page was last edited on Friday, 7 Feb 2020 at 17:26 UTC