Piatigorsky, Gregor

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Piatigorsky, Gregor

Piatigorsky, Gregor, great Russian-born American cellist and pedagogue, brother of Alexander Stogorsky; b. Ekaterinoslav, April 17, 1903; d. Los Angeles, Aug. 6, 1976. He received his first music lessons from his father, a violinist, then took cello lessons with Alfred von Glehn at the Moscow Cons. He played in various orchs. in Moscow. In 1921 he left Russia and took cello lessons with Julius Klengel in Leipzig. After serving as 1st cellist of the Berlin Phil. (1924–28), he devoted himself to a solo career. He played the solo part in Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote under the composer’s direction many times in Europe, and was probably unexcelled in this part; Strauss himself called him “mein Don Quixote.” He went to America in 1929, and made his American debut in Oberlin, Ohio, on Nov. 5, 1929; played the Dvorak Concerto with the N.Y. Phil., eliciting great praise (Dec. 29, 1929). He was regarded as the world’s finest cellist after Casals; continued giving solo recitals and appearing with major European and American orchs. for many years; gave first performances of several cello works commissioned by him from Hin-demith, Dukelsky, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and others. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1942. He taught at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (1942–51) and at the Berkshire Music Center in Tangle-wood; was a prof, at the Univ. of Southern Calif, in Los Angeles (1962–76); presented a series of trio concerts with Heifetz and Pennario. He was the recipient of honorary D.Mus. degrees from Temple Univ., Columbia Univ., the Univ. of Calif., Los Angeles, etc. He publ, an autobiographical vol., Cellist (N.Y., 1965).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Piatigorsky, Gregor

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PIATIGORSKY, GREGOR

PIATIGORSKY, GREGOR (1903–1976), cellist. Born in Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, Piatigorsky became first cellist at the Imperial Opera. He left Russia in 1921 and from 1924 he was leading cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He resigned in 1928 to tour as soloist, often appearing in recitals with Serge Rachmaninoff, Arthur *Schnabel, and Vladimir *Horovitz. He also formed a trio with Nathan *Milstein and Horovitz. In 1929 he settled in the U.S. and taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and later at Boston University.

One of the leading cellists of his generation, Piatigorsky made many arrangements for the cello and commissioned cello concertos from several composers – Paul Hindemith, Mario *Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Serge Prokofiev. He visited Israel in 1954 for concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and returned in 1970 for concerts together with Jasha Heifetz. His autobiography, Cellist, was published in 1965.

[Uri (Erich) Toeplitz]

Piatigorsky, Gregor

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Piatigorsky, Gregor (b Ekaterinoslav, 1903; d Los Angeles, 1976). Russ.-born cellist (Amer. cit. 1942). Joined Lenin Qt. 1919 and in same year became prin. vc. of Moscow Bolshoy Opera orch. Left Russ. 1921, becoming prin. vc. Berlin PO under Furtwängler 1924–8. Played in Don Quixote many times cond. by Strauss, who admired him greatly. Formed sonata partnership with Schnabel. Amer. début in Oberlin, Ohio, 1929, followed by Dvořák conc. in NY. In 1930s played in trio with Horowitz and Milstein. Taught at Curtis Inst. 1942–51 and at Univ. of S. Calif., Los Angeles, 1962–76. Gave f.ps. of concs. by Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1935), Hindemith (1941), and Walton (1957). Comp. works for vc. and wrote autobiography, Cellist, 1965.

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