Born: August 10, 1954
In article after article, the one thing that is always mentioned in addition to Eliot Fisk's skills as a guitarist and transcriber is his commitment to music as a changing force in peoples' lives. He firmly and enthusiastically advocates more teaching of music in schools and more active community involvement by musicians. He himself gives recitals at schools, prisons, retirement homes, and other community institutions whenever his concert and teaching schedules allow it. This dedication is credited to his upbringing in a Quaker home. His father bought both a banjo and a guitar for seven-year-old Fisk, hoping that Fisk would like one of the instruments. Fisk settled on the guitar and virtually taught himself to play, spending hours practicing each day as a teenager. He took a bachelor's and master's degree in music from Yale, where he studied with harpsichordists Ralph Kirkpatrick and Albert Fuller. His guitar teachers included Oscar Ghiglia and Alirio Diaz, but his mentor was Andrés Segovia. Fisk's talent was so admired by Segovia that the latter's widow gave Fisk the exclusive first rights to perform and record some of Segovia's compositions that were found in the mid-1990s. That album, Segovia -- Canciones Populares, became one of Billboard's Classical Chart best-sellers. What makes Fisk stand out as a performer are his passionate, intense playing, whether it be Bach or Scarlatti, Berio or Rochberg, and his transcriptions that remain true to the original works' musical intentions, but are idiomatic of the guitar. His recording of the Paganini's Caprices (24) was called "daring" and also became a best-seller. Many of his transcriptions are of Baroque works, but he has also performed the music of Mozart and Haydn. In addition to the works dedicated to him by Berio and Rochberg, Fisk has also premiered new works for guitar by Ernesto Halffter, Robert Beaser, and Leonardo Balada. Fisk performs as much chamber music as he does concerto or solo music, most frequently with flutist Paula Robison, but also with string quartets, flamenco guitarist Paco Peña, vocalist Ute Lemper, and Turkish music specialist Burhan Öçal. Shortly after graduating from Yale, Fisk was asked to help establish that school's guitar program. He has taught at the Cologne Hochschule für Musik, and in 1989 started teaching at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the New England Conservatory since 1996.