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Steven Isserlis (b1958)


The English cellist Steven Isserlis is a grandson of the Russian pianist and composer Julius Isserlis—one of the first twelve musicians allowed to exit the Soviet Union to promote Russian culture. He studied with Jane Cowan (a pupil of Feuermann) then Richard Kapuscinski (pupil of Rose and Salmond) and quickly began a wide-ranging career as a soloist performing with most of the world’s leading ensembles, including period instrument groups.

Like many soloists Isserlis is also an enthusiastic chamber musician; he gives regular recitals with Melvyn Tan and in 1991 formed a trio with Joshua Bell and Olli Mustonen. He is a recipient of the Piatigorsky Artist Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award and has given a number of high-profile premières, including works by Robert Saxton, Elizabeth Maconchy, Howard Blake and John Tavener. The latter’s work The Protecting Veil received its highly acclaimed première at the BBC Proms in 1989 and the subsequent recording brought both Tavener and Isserlis to greater prominence, winning a Gramophone Award. Among his many other recordings are the concertos by Elgar and Barber, Britten’s Cello Symphony and much chamber music, as well as numerous obscure and forgotten pieces—Isserlis is, by his own admission, always hungry for more music to be added to the cello’s repertoire.

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