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Samuel Mayes


Two counties in Oklahoma—Rogers and Mayes—were named after ancestors of Samuel Mayes, whose grandfather was a Cherokee chief. His long career was defined by several prestigious appointments at the invitation of conductors such as Koussevitzky and Ormandy, as well as by teaching at several US institutions and maintaining a solo performance schedule. Mayes began cello lessons aged four with Max Steindel, principal cellist of the St Louis Symphony Orchestra and regular duo partner of Mayes’s mother, a noted pianist. At twelve he went to Felix Salmond, one of America’s greatest cello pedagogues, and when still in his teens joined the cello section of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ten years as principal cellist of the orchestra followed before Koussevitzky invited him to take up a similar position in Boston. Here he also taught at the university, played chamber music with Joseph Silverstein and Joseph de Pasquale, and met his wife, Winifred Schaefer, a fellow cellist and the first woman to join the string section of the Boston Symphony. In 1965, when Mayes was persuaded to rejoin the Philadelphia Orchestra, he and his wife became desk partners there.

Although Mayes retired from teaching in 1984 he remained an active performer until shortly before his death. He was principal cellist with the Aspen Festival and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras and was made a Chevalier du Violoncelle of the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center.

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