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The Piatigorsky Memorial Concert and the legacy of Gregor Piatigorsky

Mar 19, 2021

The musical life and legacy of cellist Gregor Piatigorsky have hugely influenced the world of classical music and the cello. His legacy is evident throughout the landscape of classical music through various memorial concerts and prizes including the Shriver Hall Concert Series’ Piatigorsky Memorial Concert. Established in 1978 by Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Drachman and Dr. and Mrs. Joram Piatigorsky, this concert has brought many amazing cellists to the SHCS stage and Baltimore audiences throughout the years. 


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Gregor Piatigorsky was born on April 17, 1903, in Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine. At the age of seven, he began to study the cello and left home to study at the Moscow Conservatory a few years later. At only fifteen, he was the principal cellist of the Bolshoi Opera Orchestra as well as a member of the Beethoven String Quartet (later known as the Lenin String Quartet). Piatigorsky went on to serve as principal cellist at the Warsaw Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic before beginning a now-legendary career as a soloist. Through his commitment to virtuosity and excellence in his own playing, he developed and extended technique for the cello and transcribed, arranged, composed, and commissioned a great amount of cello repertoire. 


Piatigorsky dedicated a large part of his life to teaching and encouraging talented young musicians.  He taught at the Curtis Institute, Tanglewood, Boston University, and the University of Southern California. He also served as a member of the jury of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1962 and 1966. In 1962, the Cello Society of New York created the "Piatigorsky Prize," which is given out biennially to a young cellist. 


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The Piatigorsky Memorial Concert at Shriver Hall Concert Series has showcased many extraordinary cellists, including Steven Isserlis, Mischa Maisky, Alisa Weilerstein, Alban Gerhardt, Johannes Moser, and Sol Gabetta, among others. This season, SHCS welcomed Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan with pianist Armine Grigoryan. SHCS is grateful for the artistry, legacy, and inspiration of Gregor Piatigorsky, as well as the generous endowers of the Piatigorsky Memorial Concert.


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