Ralph Kirshbaum

Biography

Born: March 4, 1946; Denton, TX  
Ralph Kirschbaum's family was musical: His father was a professional violinist and conductor, his mother a harpist, and his brothers and sisters were a violinist, a violist, and a pianist. Kirschbaum decided on cello and had his first lessons on the instrument from his father. At age 11, he began three years of study with Roberta Gustafeste then went to study with Lev Aronson, a teacher of renown who was the principal cellist of the Dallas Read more Symphony and also was the teacher of Lynn Harrell. When Kirschbaum turned 18, Aronson recommended that he study with the great Gregor Piatigorsky (his own teacher). However, Kirschbaum had seen in his family how difficult it could be to make a living as a professional musician, so he opted to continue academic studies instead, no doubt also prompted by the fact that he had earned a scholarship to Yale University. This was far from a rejection of his cello studies; at Yale, Kirschbaum was able to study with Aldo Parisot, a brilliant cellist who followed the line of Emanuel Feuermann. Kirschbaum never regretted his choice, noting that Aronson instilled great musicality in his students and was especially fine in teaching bowing technique. Parisot had a virtuoso left-hand technique and so concentrated on Kirschbaum's fingering. He has pointed to the benefits of an education balanced between two renowned but different teachers. When Kirschbaum returned to Dallas, even Aronson, who had been disappointed that his student turned down an opportunity to study with Piatigorsky, said that he was satisfied with Kirschbaum's development.

Kirschbaum won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Europe in 1968. This was in accordance with his goal, which was to start his professional career in Europe (a decision made by many American musicians). However, it was 1968, the Vietnam War was on, and Kirschbaum had received his draft physical examination. Since he might be unable to use it, he suggested the Fulbright trustees award it to someone else. However, a physician found that Kirschbaum had flat feet and would not pass the physical. (To be sure, this doctor, an Englishman who loved music, was the tenth doctor Kirschbaum consulted; the others had all passed him.)

Kirschbaum studied in Paris for a year on a French government grant and in 1970, he won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. As a result, the French extended his grant for another year. Kirschbaum values this two-year period as a great benefit that allowed him to consolidate his technique and musical knowledge. However, he also began concertizing during this period and his London debut was in 1970 at Wigmore Hall. He returned to London to make his first orchestral appearance, playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme with London's New Philharmonia Orchestra. Fellow cellist Jacqueline Du Pré generously loaned him her famous "Davidov" Stradivari instrument for that debut. (Subsequently, Kirschbaum acquired one of the great cellos, the "Piatti" cello, built by Montagnana in 1729.)

A major chamber ensemble was formed when Kirschbaum met pianist Peter Frankl and violinist Gyorgy Pauk. These two players, although they have not achieved household "star name" status, enjoy the highest repute among musicians and other cognoscenti and for years had been recital partners who had been looking for a cellist with whom to form a trio. Despite Kirschbaum's being ten years younger than they were, there was an instant rapport, which they realized as soon as they played together. Their first performance was a concert at the Edinburgh Festival that was broadcast live on the BBC to great acclaim. The British network quickly engaged them to play a series of what would add up to 30 trio performances. Despite all three members enjoying busy concert careers on their own, the Frankl-Pauk-Kirschbaum Trio usually gives 15 concerts each year. In 1976, Kirschbaum returned to his native land to make a debut in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has based his career in England, but returns to the United States for major tours every year. He has a teaching position at the Royal Northern College of Music and has made numerous recordings, including the Elgar and Walton concertos and (with Pauk and violist Nobuko Imai) the Triple Concerto by Michael Tippett. Read less
Browse 1-16 of 16 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Schubert: String Quintet D. 956; Quartettsatz D. 703 / Kirshbaum, Takacs Quartet
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67864 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
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  • 2.
    Tristan Keuris: Complete Works
    Label: Quattro Records   Catalog: 2009 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Tristan Keuris
    Performer:  Herman Braune,  Agnes Benoist,  René Eckhardt,  Arno Bornkamp  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Hupperts,  Henrik Schaefer,  Otto Tausk,  Hans Leenders  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raschčr Saxophone Quartet,  Ensemble M,  Gaudeamus Quartet  ... 
    CD: $107.49
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  • 3.
    50 Best Adagios
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57489 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Pachelbel,  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Scaramuzzino,  Véronique Gens,  David Daniels,  Steven Isserlis  ... 
    Conductor:  Ian Watson,  Andrew Parrott,  Christopher Warren-Green,  Fabio Biondi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Taverner Consort,  Seminario Musicale  ... 
    CD: $15.99
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  • 4.
    At The Haunted End Of The Day - William Walton
    Label: Tony Palmer Films   Catalog: 1357 Release Date: 06/02/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton
    Performer:  Iona Brown,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Ralph Kirshbaum,  Yvonne Kenny  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
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  • 5.
    Tippett: Concerto For Orchestra, Triple Concerto / Sir Colin Davis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 420781 Release Date: 09/22/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Tippett
    Performer:  Nobuko Imai,  Ralph Kirshbaum,  György Pauk
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 6.
    An Introduction to Edward Elgar
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 2021 Release Date: 09/19/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum
    Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Norman Del Mar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Bournemouth Sinfonietta
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  • 7.
    Bear Essentials - Great British Orchestral Classics
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 2428 Release Date: 09/20/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton,  Malcolm Arnold,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum,  Michael Davis
    Conductor:  Rumon Gamba,  Jan Latham-Koenig,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    Brahms: Piano Trios, Piano Quintet / Frankl, Previn, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics Double Fforte   Catalog: 73341 Release Date: 03/11/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Aldo Parisot,  Walter Trampler,  Syoko Aki,  Broadus Erle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yale String Quartet
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  • 9.
    Tippett: Orchestral Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470196 Release Date: 05/20/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Michael Tippett
    Performer:  Faye Robinson,  Paul Cann,  Philip Cave,  Caryl Kelly  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Nicholas Cleobury,  Howard Snell,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Oxford Schola Cantorum Choir,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble  ... 
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  • 10.
    Barber: Cello Concerto, Cello Sonata, Adagio / Kirshbaum
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 59565 Release Date: 05/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Roger Vignoles,  Ralph Kirshbaum
    Conductor:  Jukka-Pekka Saraste
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 11.
    Bach: Cello Suites / Ralph Kirshbaum
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 61609 Release Date: 02/01/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum
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  • 12.
    Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Symphony No 1, Etc / Willcocks
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 2410 Release Date: 05/18/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir William Walton
    Performer:  Sherrill Milnes,  Ralph Kirshbaum,  George McPhee
    Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Sir David Willcocks
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Scottish National Chorus,  Scottish Festival Brass Bands  ... 
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  • 13.
    Beethoven For Relaxation
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 63328 Release Date: 03/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Phillip Moll,  James Galway,  Serge Edelmann,  Michael Schade  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Sir Colin Davis,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Günter Wand
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Pinchas Zukerman Plays & Conducts Haydn / Kirshbaum, English CO
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 62696 Release Date: 07/12/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum,  Gordon Hunt,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Robin O'Neill  ... 
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Elgar: Cello Concerto, Falstaff / Kirshbaum, Gibson
    Label: Chandos Collect   Catalog: 6607 Release Date: 10/25/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Ralph Kirshbaum
    Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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