Famous Cello Players

There are several famous cello players, including Jean-Pierre Duport (1741-1818), Gaetano Braga (1829-1907), Victor Herbert (1859-1924) and Richard Harwood (1979). Karol Pravoslav Sadlo, a Czechoslovakian cellist and noted teacher, is credited with developing modern cello technique. While these cellists helped to advance the popularity of the instrument and were virtuosos of their time, there are two names that rise above all others as the greatest cellist of all time.

Pablo Casals
A famous cello player, Pau Casalis I Defillo, better known as Pablo Casals, was a Spanish Catalan cellis who lived from December 29, 1876, to October 22, 1973. Casals was a highly respected conductor as well as a cellist. Though there are many recordings of Pablo Casals' chamber music and orchestral music, he is best remembered for his recording of Bach: Cello Suites, between 1936 and 1939.

Casals' father was a church organist and choirmaster. He taught Casals how to play the violin, piano and flute by the time Pablo was four years old. The younger Casals first heard a cello played when he was 11 years old. In 1888, he enrolled in the Escola Municipal de Musica, where he studied cello, theory and piano. His first solo was given on February 23, 1891, in Barcelona at the age of 14.

By 1899, Casals was an accomplished cello player who had appeared at the Crystal Palace in London. He also played for Queen Victoria at Osborne House. In 1901, he started his first United States tour. He played for President Roosevelt on January 15, 1904, then played at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Yo-Yo Ma
Another great cello player, Yo-Yo Ma, was born in 1955 in Paris. Ma started studying the cello with his father at the age of four. He spent most of his formative years in New York, studying under Leonard Rose at Julliard, before graduating from Harvard in 1976. Ma's playing has earned him some of the most prominent artistic awards, including the following:

  • Avery Fisher Prize (1978)
  • Glenn Gould Prize (1999)
  • National Medal of the Arts (2001)
  • Dan David Prize (2006)
  • Sonning Prize (2006)

Yo-Yo Ma has also won several Grammy awards. He plays many different types of songs, including bluegrass, classical, pop music and traditional holiday songs. His music has also been featured in Hollywood film soundtracks, including Seven Years in Tibet; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha.

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