Isserlis, Steven

views updated


ISSERLIS, STEVEN (John ; 1958– ), English cellist. His grandfather was the Russian pianist and composer, Julius Isserlis (the family has also a connection to *Felix Mendelssohn). Isserlis received his training at the International Cello Centre in London (1969–76) and at Oberlin College, Ohio (1976–8). In 1977 he made his London debut and went on to perform as a soloist with the world's leading orchestras and conductors. Isserlis was also active as a recitalist and chamber music performer. As a performer and musician he combined outgoing flamboyance with inwardness and introspection and intellectual, brilliant, adventurous thought. His repertoire embraces traditional cello works; early music played on original instruments, contemporary music, and rarely heard works. He gave first performances of works by Robert Saxton, Elizabeth Maconchy, Howard Blake, and John Tavener, including The Protecting Veil (1989, London), of which his recording won a Gramophone Award. Among his recordings are the concertos by Elgar and Barber, Britten's Cello Symphony, and much chamber music. His awards include the Piatigorsky Artist Award (1992), the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist of the Year (1993), cbe (1998), and the Stadt-Zwickau Robert Schumann Prize (2000). He writes the sleeve notes for most of his recordings as well as articles for leading newspapers and journals. Among his publications are "Prokofiev's Unfinished Concertino: A Twisted Tale," in: Three-Oranges (May 2002, 3:32–33) and his children's history of great composers, Why Beethoven Threw the Stew (2001). He also edited and arranged several works. Owing to a strong interest in musical education Isserlis was much in demand for teaching – he was artistic director of the ims Prussia Cove and was regularly invited to teach at various prestigious academies in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.


Grove Music Online; Baker's Biographical Dictionary (1997); E. Eisler, "Steven Isserlis: Author, Advocate, Scholar, Sleuth," in: Strings, 5:99 (Jan. 16, 2002), 42–53.

[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]

More From