The distinguished career of Texas-born cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, which encompasses the worlds of solo performance, chamber music, recording and pedagogy, 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.
Ralph 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, and the late Sir Georg Solti. Ralph 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 thirty-year collaboration with pianist Peter Frankl and violinist Gyorgy Pauk, he in recent years has frequently appeared with Pinchas Zukerman, Robert McDuffie, Lawrence Dutton, Peter Jablonski, and Shai Wosner. Other recent collaborations have included Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Midori, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Joseph Swensen, Pepe Romero, and the Emerson and Takacs String Quartets.
Recent highlights have included a return to the Verbier Festival, recitals in the UK with the Takacs Quartet, a tour with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, a residency at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and an appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. A regular visitor to Australia, his most recent tour included concerts with the Adelaide and Sydney Symphony Orchestras as well as recitals and master classes.
Bach forms an important part of Ralph Kirshbaum’s musical activities; he has performed the complete cycle of Bach cello suites in London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in Sydney, Edinburgh, Lyon and San Francisco. He has also made a critically acclaimed recording of the solo Bach Suites for EMI/Virgin Classics.
In 1988 Ralph Kirshbaum founded the RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival bringing together the world’s great cellists in a celebration of the cello, its music, its musicians and its makers. The last festival took place in 2007 and the following year received the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Music Award for Concert Series and Festivals. In 2012 Ralph Kirshbaum inaugurated the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles to worldwide acclaim.
A renowned pedagogue, he served on the faculty of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester for 38 years, and in 2008 accepted the Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He serves as artistic advisor of IMS Prussia Cove, and is Founder/Honorary president of the Pierre Fournier Award as well as honorary president of the London Cello Society. He recently served for five years on the US President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Ralph Kirshbaum’s many recordings have included the 1983 Gramophone Magazine “Record of the Year” world premiere recording of Tippett’s Triple Concerto for Philips, the Elgar and Walton Concertos for Chandos, the Ravel, Shostakovich and Brahms Trios for EMI, the Barber Concerto and Sonata for EMI/Virgin Classics and the Shostakovich and Prokofiev Sonatas with Peter Jablonski for Altara Music. Also noteworthy is his recording of the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos for BMG Classics with Pinchas Zukerman, John Browning and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and the recent release for Hyperion of the Schubert Quintet with the Takacs Quartet.
The rare Montagnana Cello that Ralph Kirshbaum plays once belonged to the 19th century virtuoso Alfredo Piatti.
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