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Erling Blondal Bengtsson (b1932)

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson was born to musical parents—his father a violinist and his mother a pianist—and was given a violin at only three years old. Seeing that Erling insisted on holding it vertically like a cello, his father put an endpin on a viola so that he could begin to play on that; a little later a family friend who was a luthier crafted him a mini-cello which must have been one of the smallest ever made. His first formal cello lessons were with Fritz Dietzmann, principal cellist of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra. During World War II his musical activities and opportunities for performance were restricted, but soon afterwards he became known in his mother’s native Iceland and received Icelandic state support to go to the Curtis Institute where he studied with the great Russian-American Piatigorsky who described him as a ‘colleague’ and taught him in a collaborative manner. When Piatigorsky moved to California in 1950, Bengtsson took over as his assistant at the Curtis for a short period before returning to Denmark in 1953.




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