University of Southern California cellist to visit School of Music

October 24, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Renowned cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, a professor at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, will present a masterclass for Penn State cello students at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31, in Esber Recital Hall. Kirshbaum's visit to Penn State is hosted by professor Kim Cook. Admission is free.

The distinguished career of the Texas-born cellist encompasses the worlds of solo performance, chamber music, recording and pedagogy and places him in the highest echelon of today’s cellists. He enjoys the affection and respect not only of audiences worldwide, but also of his many eminent colleagues and students.

Kirshbaum has appeared with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, BBC and London Symphonies, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Zurich Tonhalle, Orchestre de Paris, and Israel Philharmonic. He has collaborated with many of the great conductors of the time such as Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Andrew Davis, the late Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Sir Antonio Pappano, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, and the late Sir Georg Solti. Kirshbaum has appeared frequently at such prominent international festivals as Edinburgh, Bath, Verbier, Lucerne, Aspen, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Music @Menlo, Ravinia and New York’s Mostly Mozart.

Having enjoyed a 30-year collaboration with pianist Peter Frankl and violinist Gyorgy Pauk, he has in recent years frequently appeared with Pinchas Zukerman, Robert McDuffie, Lawrence Dutton, Peter Jablonski, and Shai Wosner. Other recent collaborators have included Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Midori, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Pepe Romero, and the Emerson and Takács String Quartets.

Last season, Kirshbaum performed Beethoven cycles with pianist Shai Wosner in the U.S. and Great Britain, highlighted by a performance of the complete cycle in London’s Wigmore Hall, in conjunction with the celebration of Kirshbaum’s 70th birthday. In November 2016, a recording, together with Shai Wosner, of the complete sonatas and variations of Beethoven will be released on the Onyx Classics label. Kirshbaum continues to perform Beethoven’s cello works in the 2016-17 season with Wosner — in October at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., and in March at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Los Angeles, where the duo will perform the complete sonatas and variations of Beethoven in two consecutive concerts, immediately followed by a performance at Chamber Music Sedona in Arizona.

Kirshbaum founded the RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival in 1988 as a celebration of the cello, its music and musicians. The final festival, which took place in 2007, was awarded the celebrated Royal Philharmonic Society’s Music Award for Concert Series and Festivals. In 2012, Kirshbaum inaugurated the highly successful Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles, centered at the University of Southern California - Thornton School of Music. The festival returned to Los Angeles in May 2016 and was attended by some of the world’s foremost cellists, rising young artists and concertgoers, receiving international acclaim for its concerts, masterclasses, lectures, and workshops. Kirshbaum launched the 2016 festival with a performance of Bloch’s Schelomo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin.

A renowned pedagogue, he served on the faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester for 38 years. In 2008, he accepted the Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where he recently assumed the role of chair of the strings department. In July 2016, he received an honorary doctorate of music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. He continues to serve as artistic adviser of IMS Prussia Cove and is founder and honorary president of the Pierre Fournier Award, as well as honorary president of the London Cello Society. He recently served a five-year term on the United States President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

The rare Montagnana cello that Ralph Kirshbaum plays once belonged to the 19th-century virtuoso Alfredo Piatti.


  • Ralph Kirshbaum

    Ralph Kirshbaum, cello

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated October 25, 2016