Garbousova, Raya

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Garbousova, Raya

Garbousova, Raya, greatly admired Russian-born American cellist and pedagogue; b. Tiflis, Sept. 25, 1906. She began to study piano as a very small child, and then took up playing a small cello when she was 6. When she was 7, she entered the Tiflis Cons, as a pupil of Konstantin Miniar, and soon thereafter made her first public appearance in Tiflis. After giving concerts in Moscow and Leningrad in 1924, she went to Berlin to pursue her training with Heinz Becker. Following successful concerts in Berlin in 1926 and in Paris in 1927, she had further instruction with Diran Alexanian. She appeared as a soloist with U.S. orchs., and then made her N.Y. recital debut at Town Hall in 1934. In subsequent years, she appeared with orchs. on both sides of the Atlantic and as a recitalist. She lived in Paris until her husband, a Frenchman in the Resistance, was killed in 1943. She eventually made her way to the U.S., where she married the cardiologist Kurt Biss in 1946 and became a naturalized citizen. Garbousova resumed her international career, but she also devoted increasing attention to teaching. In addition to giving master-classes around the world, she taught at the Hartt School of Music at the Univ. of Hartford (1970–89) and then at Northern 111. Univ. in DeKalb. She distinguished herself as an interpreter not only of the standard repertory, but also of contemporary music. She gave the premieres of a number of major scores, including the cello concertos of Barber (1946) and Rieti (1956).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire