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Harrell, Lynn

Harrell, Lynn (b NY, 1944). Amer. cellist. Début recital, NY 1960. Prin. cellist Cleveland Orch., 1965–71. Soloist since 1971, appearing with major Amer., Brit., and European orchs. Brit. début 1975, with LSO. Salzburg Fest. début 1979. Taught at Univ. of Cincinnati Coll.-Cons. of Mus. 1971–6, Juilliard Sch. 1976–86, Univ. of S. Calif., Los Angeles, 1986–92; int. chair of vc. studies, RAM 1986–93. Prin., RAM, 1993–4.

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Harrell, Lynn

Lynn Harrell


For the Record

Selected discography


Lynn Harrell is one of the leading cellists of his generation and is especially popular in the United States and Great Britain. He is known for his broad and big-toned performance style and technical mastery, as well as his geniality and delight in music making.

Although Harrell was born into a musical familyhis father was Mack Harrell, a baritone with the Metropolitan Opera, and his mother, Marjorie Fulton, was a violinisthis parents did not pressure any of their three children to play musical instruments. Harrell began to play the piano at age eight andnot liking itmuch later decided to play the cello after he saw one at an informal chamber music concert at his home. Since the boy chose the cello because he was big for his age and it was the biggest instrument he knew, Harrell often quips that he might have become a bassist if he had known of the instruments existence.

The Harrell family moved from New York City to Dallas when Mack Harrell accepted a position as artist-in-residence at Southern Methodist University. Lynn excelled at the cello at a price. When I stopped playing sports in school, he recalled to John Farrell of USC Magazine, baseball, basketball and football, when I decided I wanted to practice the cello instead, I gave up popularity, friends. I was suddenly a leper. No one was the same to me. And that was very, very hurtful. Very lonely. When four years later his father died of cancer, the young cellist found consolation in his music, pouring all his feelings into the cello in what he calls a very complicated emotional relationship. His cello again received his sorrow when Harrells mother was killed in an automobile accident in 1963.

Harrell studied cello with Lev Aranson in Dallas, Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School in New York, and Orlando Cole at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. In 1961 he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Harrell also attended master classes with two of the most renowned cellists in the world: Gregor Piatigorsky in Dallas (1962) and Pablo Casals in Malboro, Vermont (1963). At age eighteen Harrell was a finalist in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and bearne the youngest member of the Cleveland Orchestra under the world famous conductor George Szell. Three years after joining the orchestra, Harrell was promoted to first chair. Harrell recalls those years as a sort of apprenticeship. But it was like having a class on music in the best sense, he told Gordon Emerson of the New Haven Register. Thats when I really got a working knowledge of how to put a piece together for a performance and its been very valuable.

In 1971 Harrell struck out on his own, but it was only following a joint recital in 1972 with James Levine

For the Record

Full name, Lynn Morris Harrell; born January 30, 1944, in New York City; son of Mack (a baritone with the Metropolitan Opera) and Marjorie (a violinist; maiden name, Fulton) Harrell; married Linda Blanford (a journalist), September 7, 1976; children: Eben and Katherine (twins). Education: Studied cello at the Juilliard School of Music and at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Made debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 1961 ; first cello with the Cleveland Orchestra, 1963-71; made recital debut at Tully Hall, New York City, 1971; taught at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, 1971-76; taught at the Juilliard School of Music, New York City, 1977; featured soloist with numerous major symphony orchestras in the United States and Europe; became first holder of the Piatigorsky Chair of Cello at the University of Southern California (USC), 1987; appointed to the International Chair of Cello Studies at the Royal Academy of London, 1988.

Awards: Co-recipient (with Murray Perahia) of the first Avery Fisher Prize, 1975; Grammy Awards (with Itzhak Perlman and Vladimir Ashkenazy) for best chamber music performance, 1981, for Tchaikovskys Piano Trío in A Minor, and (with Perlman and Ashkenazy) 1987, for Beethoven: TheComplete Piano Trios.

Addresses: Office c/o Columbia Artists Management, 165 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019. Publicist Herbert H. Breslin, Inc., 119 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.

whom he had met when Levine was an intern with the Cleveland Orchestrathat his career was launched. Since then he has performed with many of the worlds greatest orchestras and soloists. He owns a 1720 Montagnana cello and a 1673 Stradivarius cello, fine instruments by world renowned makers. He is equally comfortable performing in solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and solo appearances with the orchestra. He has made a number of televised appearances: PBS Gala of the Stars, Live from Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Opera Gala, among others.

Harrells discography includes more than two dozen albums on a number of labels, including RCA, EMI/Angel, Deutsche Gramophone, and CBS. In 1981 he and violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy were awarded a Grammy for their recording of the Tchaikovsky Trio in A Minor, op. 50. In 1986 Harrell signed an exclusive contract with London/Decca to record works by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Bach, and others. Touring is lonely and fatiguing, and after the number of his performances peaked at 130 in a single year, Harrell decided to limit them to about 100 to allow for more family time. When Harrell was playing concerts in London with Ashkenazy, he met his future wifeLinda Blandfordan English journalist who came to interview the duo. They were married in 1976 and have twins, Katharine and Eben, with whom they live in Beverly Hills.

Harrell takes teaching seriously. His first teaching appointment was with the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music before he began his solo career. Since then he has taught at the Juilliard School, was appointed to the International Chair of Cello Studies at the Royal Academy of London, and in 1987 became the first holder of the prestigious Piatigorsky Chair of Cello at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (USC). As I have been given, so it has always seemed to me, I was obliged to give to others, he wrote in the Instrumentalist. I have always felt that I owed others a huge musical debt and that I was to pay it through the next generation. Harrell rarely gives private lessons, preferring instead the master-class format. He finds that teaching enriches and inspires his own playing.

Between performing, recording, and teaching, Harrell maintains a hectic schedule. He has conducting ambitions, and he may also write a book and make a videotape on cello technique. But in putting his goals in perspective, he emphasizes non-musical activities as well. My goals, Harrell told Farrell, are just to get the music right, to get it better. But in the last five years or so, Ive also become much more concerned with my quality of life. When I come to the end of my career, I want to feel Ive had a good and satisfying life. I want to feel content with what Ive done, not sorry for missing out on the pleasure that one can derive from living life to the fullest. For me much of that has to do with making music. But its more than music too. Its family and students and friends. I want to live a life thats very rich and full and happy to the end.

Selected discography

C.P.E. Bach: Cello Concerto in A Major; Couperin: Pieces en Concert, Angel/EMI.

J.C. Bach, Mozart, Stamitz, Wanhal: Oboe Quartets, Angel/EMI.

J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Solo Cello, London/Decca.

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, London/Decca.

Beethoven: Sonatas for Cello and Piano (with James Levine), RCA.

Beethoven: Sonatas for Cello and Piano (with Vladimir Ashkenazy), London/Decca.

Beethoven: Trio No. 7 in B Flat Archduke, Angel/EMI. Beethoven: Piano Trios, Angel/EMI.

Beethoven: Serenade, Op. 8; Dohnany: Serenade, Op. 10, CBS.

Boccherini: Quintet for Strings in E Major, Vanguard.

Brahms: Sonatas for Cello and Piano, No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38, No. 2 in F Major, Op. 99, London/Decca.

Brahms: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, CBS.

Dvorak: Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104; Bruch: Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, London/Decca.

Dvorak: Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, RCA.

Elgar: Concerto, Op. 85; Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations, Op. 33; Pezzo Capriccioso, London/Decca.

Haydn: Cello Concertos, No. 1 in C Major, No. 2 in D Major, Angel/EMI.

Herbert: Cello Concertos, London/Decca.

Lalo: Concerto in D Minor; Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 119; Faure: Elegie, Op. 24, London/Decca.

Mozart: Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478, RCA.

Prokofiev: Sonata in G Major, Op. 119; Debussy: Sonata; Webern:

Drei Kleine Stucke, Op. 11, RCA.

Rachmaninoff: Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 19; Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, London/Decca.

Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21, CBS.

Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, D. 821; Mendelssohn: Sonata in D Major, Op. 58, RCA.

Schubert: Quintet for Strings in C Major, DG.

Schumann: Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129; Saint-Saens: Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33, London/Decca.

Schostakovich: Concerto No. 1, Op. 107; Bloch: Schelomo, London/Decca.

Strauss: Don Quixote, Op. 35, London/Decca.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50, Angel/EMI.

Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 For Soprano and Cellos, London/Decca.

Vivaldi: Concerto in G Major, P. 120, Concerto in G minor, P. 369.


Instrumentalist, April 1988.

Keynote, May 1988.

Los Angeles Daily News, July 17, 1988.

New Haven Register, October 4, 1987.

Ovation, March 1986.

Raleigh News and Observer, January 15, 1988.

USC Magazine, January 1988.

Jeanne M. Lesinski

Cite this article
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"Harrell, Lynn." Contemporary Musicians. . 11 Dec. 2017 <>.

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"Harrell, Lynn." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from