Gregor Piatigorsky: The Life and Career of the Virtuoso Cellist
(Forced to provide for his family from the age of 8 and th...)
Forced to provide for his family from the age of 8 and thrown out of his home into a bitter Moscow winter at age 12, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky began his career as an archetypal struggling artist, using secondhand and borrowed instruments. When the October Revolution forced his escape to Warsaw, he enjoyed initial success with the Warsaw Philharmonic. Relocating to Berlin a few months later, he again struggled in poverty before eventually emerging as solo cellist with the Berlin Philharmonic. Settling in the United States during World II, Piatigorsky continued a brilliant career that cemented his place as one of the twentieth century's greatest musicians. This all-embracing chronicle of Piatigorsky's tempestuous life and career finally reveals the full life story of a musical legend.
Second Piatigorsky Cup International Grandmaster Chess Tournament Held in Santa Monica, California August 1966
(Ten of the world's strongest chess players competed in th...)
Ten of the world's strongest chess players competed in the strongest chess tournament ever held in the US. All ten of the players have provided annotations to their games. Every one of the 90 games in the tournament is annotated. All the games have been converted to modern Algebraic Notation with diagrams. The games are annotated by Jan H. Donner, Robert Fischer, Borislav Ivkov, Bent Larsen, Miguel Najdorf, Tigran Petrosian, Lajos Portisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Boris Spassky, and Wolfgang Unzicker. Introduction by Gregor Piatigorsky. Edited by Isaac Kashdan with a new foreword by Sam Sloan.
(GRISHA: The Story of Cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. This boo...)
GRISHA: The Story of Cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. This books tells the story of a struggle between father and son, both aspiring musicians. While the father fails in the musical world of Tsarist Russia, his son becomes a world famous cellist. For Gregor Piatigorsky, success meant escaping the grip of his father, surviving the murderous Russian pogroms, fleeing from the Bolshevik Revolution and twice escaping the Nazi Holocaust. It also meant falling in love with the daughter of the Baron de Rothschild, the wealthiest family in Europe. While Piatigorsky found fame and fortune as a musical artist and entertained presidents, kings and emperors, he was still a man without a country. As World War II destroyed everything he had ever known, Piatigorsky found sanctuary at Windy Cliff, an abandoned castle in Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York. In 1942, he achieved his dream of becoming an American citizen and finally stopped running.
Gregor Piatigorsky was a Russian-born American cellist.
Gregor Piatigorsky was born in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine) into a Jewish family. As a child, he was taught violin and piano by his father. After seeing and hearing the cello, he was determined to become a cellist and was given his first cello when he was seven.
He won a scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Alfred von Glehn, Anatoliy Brandukov, and a certain Gubariov. At the same time he was earning money for his family by playing in local cafés.
He was 13 when the Russian Revolution took place. Shortly afterwards he started playing in the Lenin Quartet. At 15, he was hired as the principal cellist for the Bolshoi Theater.
The Soviet authorities, specifically Anatoly Lunacharsky, would not allow him to travel abroad to further his studies, so he smuggled himself and his cello into Poland on a cattle train with a group of artists. One of the women was a heavy-set soprano who, when the border guards started shooting at them, grabbed Piatigorsky and his cello. The cello did not survive intact, but it was the only casualty.
Now 18, he studied briefly in Berlin and Leipzig, with Hugo Becker and Julius Klengel, playing in a trio in a Russian café to earn money for food. Among the patrons of the café were Emanuel Feuermann and Wilhelm Furtwängler. Furtwängler heard him and hired him as the principal cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic.
In 1929, he first visited the United States, playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and the New York Philharmonic under Willem Mengelberg. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, in January 1937 he married Jacqueline de Rothschild, daughter of Édouard Alphonse James de Rothschild of the wealthy Rothschild banking family of France. That fall, after returning to France, they had their first child, Jephta. Following the Nazi occupation in World War II, the family fled the country back to the States and settled in Elizabethtown, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains. Their son, Joram, was born in Elizabethtown in 1940.
From 1941 to 1949, he was head of the cello department at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and he also taught at Tanglewood, Boston University, and the University of Southern California, where he remained until his death. The USC established the Piatigorsky Chair of Violoncello in 1974 to honor Piatigorsky.
Piatigorsky participated in a chamber group with Arthur Rubinstein (piano), William Primrose (viola) and Jascha Heifetz (violin). Referred to in some circles as the "Million Dollar Trio", Rubinstein, Heifetz, and Piatigorsky made several recordings for RCA Victor.
He played chamber music privately with Heifetz, Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Pennario, and Nathan Milstein. Piatigorsky also performed at Carnegie Hall with Horowitz and Milstein in the 1930s.
In 1965 his popular autobiography Cellist was published. Gregor Piatigorsky died of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California, in 1976. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
It has been reported that the great violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian once described Piatigorsky as the greatest string player of all time. He was an extraordinarily dramatic player. His orientation as a performer was to convey the maximum expression embodied in a piece. He brought a great authenticity to his understanding of this expression. He was able to communicate this authenticity because he had had extensive personal and professional contact with many of the great composers of the day.
Many of those composers wrote pieces for him, including Sergei Prokofiev (Cello Concerto), Paul Hindemith (Cello Concerto), Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Cello Concerto), William Walton (Cello Concerto), Vernon Duke (Cello Concerto), and Igor Stravinsky (Piatigorsky and Stravinsky collaborated on the arrangement of Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne", which was extracted from Pulcinella, for cello and piano; Stravinsky demonstrated an extraordinary method of calculating fifty-fifty royalties). At a rehearsal of Richard Strauss's Don Quixote, which Piatigorsky performed with the composer conducting, after the dramatic slow variation in D minor, Strauss announced to the orchestra, "Now I've heard my Don Quixote as I imagined him."
Piatigorsky had a magnificent sound characterized by a distinctive fast and intense vibrato and he was able to execute with consummate articulation all manner of extremely difficult bowings, including a downbow staccato that other string players could not help but be in awe of. He often attributed his penchant for drama to his student days when he accepted an engagement playing during the intermissions in recitals by the great Russian basso, Feodor Chaliapin. Chaliapin, when portraying his dramatic roles, such as the title role in Boris Godunov, would not only sing, but declaim, almost shouting. On encountering him one day, the young Piatigorsky told him, "You talk too much and don't sing enough." Chaliapin responded, "You sing too much and don't talk enough." Piatigorsky thought about this and from that point on, tried to incorporate the kind of drama and expression he heard in Chaliapin's singing into his own artistic expression.
He owned two Stradivarius cellos, the "Batta" and the "Baudiot." According to Cozio.com, Piatigorsky also owned the famous Montagnana cello known as the Sleeping Beauty from 1939 to 1951.
Member Royal Philharmonic Society, Royal Academy Music, Violoncello Society New York (honorary.
“One critic wrote, “Piatigorsky combined an innate flair for virtuosity with an exquisite taste in style and phrasing; technical perfection was never a goal in itself. His vibrant tone had infiniteshadings and his sweeping eloquence and aristocratic grandeur created an instant rapport with his audience. He was at his best in emotional Romantic music.””
Piatigorsky also enjoyed playing chess. His wife, Jacqueline Piatigorsky, was a strong player who played in several US women's championships and represented the United States in the women's Chess Olympiad. In 1963, the Piatigorskys organized and financed a strong international tournament in Los Angeles, won by Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian. A second Piatigorsky Cup was held in Santa Monica in 1966, and was won by Boris Spassky.
Married Jacqueline-de Rothschild, January 26, 1937. Children: Jephta Maria, Joram Paul.
Decorated Legion of Honor (France). Recipient B...Decorated Legion of Honor (France). Recipient Brandeis gold medal. Honorary member Royal Philharmonic Society, Royal Academy Music, Violoncello Society New York (honorary president).