Friday, October 26, 2007

Harvey Shapiro (1911-2007)

Legendary musician and teacher has died. He was 96

Harvey Shapiro, of Russian parentage, was born in New York City. His first cello teacher was Willem Willeke (1880-1950), who was both a medical doctor, and a well-known cellist of the early 20th century. Willeke was the principal cello teacher at the "Institute of Musical Art," which merged with Juilliard in 1926. Shapiro also studied with Diran Alexanian, who was both a pupil and partner in teaching with Pablo Casals. He was a winner of the highly regarded Loeb and Naumburg Prize. In 1937 he joined the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini, and from 1944 to 1946 he served as principal cellist.

In 1938 or 1939, at the invitation of NBC, he, Oscar Shumsky, Josef Gingold and William Primrose founded what became called the Primrose String Quartet, considered to be one of the finest quartets of its time. He and the Primrose Quartet along with Emanuel Feuermann, another famous cellist, gave historic performances of the Schubert Quintet.

From 1947 to 1963 Shapiro performed with the WQXR Radio Quartet. He has recorded as soloist with Victor Records, Columbia Records, US Decca Records and Nonesuch Records.

Later life and career

In 1970, on recommendation of Leonard Rose, he became professor of cello at the Juilliard School in New York, a position he held for more than twenty years. Many of his students have gone on to become famous cellists in their own right. In 1991 he was nominated as "Best Teacher of the Year" at Julliard, and he was awarded the "Schatzer Award".

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