All the best cellists will play a Lynn Harrell tribute

All the best cellists will play a Lynn Harrell tribute


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2020

Many of the world’s leading cellists will play a tribute to the late Lynn Harrell on May 21 at 2:00pm NY time on the Carnegie Hall feed.

Those taking part include Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Gautier Capucon, Daniel Müller-Schott, Alisa Weilerstein, Alban Gerhardt, Christian Poltera, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Zlatomir Fung, Johannes Moser, and Jan Vogler, who is pulling it all together

The plan is to perform Klengel’s Hymnus for 12 cellos, a movement of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 1, and the Popper Requiem.

The episode will be streamed on the hall’s website, Facebook and YouTube.

Lovely gesture.



  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    He so richly deserves this tribute.

  • anonymous says:

    I think the title of this news item needs a re-think. These aren’t all of the best cellists in the world as we well know. Some of the names you mentioned are definitely not classified as being great cellists. Let’s not forget that there are even more great cellists out there who deserve recognition.

    • May says:

      I am very glad that there are some young names as well – Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Zlatomir Fung – both of whom are extremely talented.

    • Byrwec Ellison says:

      This sort of nitpicking – all too frequent on SD – really hits a a sour note on a post about a loving tribute to Lynn Harrell from his professional colleagues.

    • Minnesota says:

      Anonymous: Especially since you were not included?

    • Dave T says:

      Indeed. Let us take the occasion of mourning and honoring a great musician and human being to score a couple of trivial points in our on going mission to appear clever.

  • Landlord says:

    « Best cellists ».. no comment really

    • Steven Mendler says:

      You are just envy…
      they are best cellist

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Not to disparage those chosen by any means, but the list is certainly longer of those cellists in the first rank. Best not to categorise as “best”. Granted, it makes for a better headline and more discussion.

    • Roland says:

      What´s wrong with this headline (except perhaps “many” instead of “all”)? all of them are masters of the cello and belong to the worlds´ top cellists.

  • JustOneBestCellist says:

    Wow, really? “All the best cellists” yet included is only one female and she is most definitely not the best of all the great female cellists out here. Sorry for those of you who don’t want to hear the truth.

  • V.Lind says:

    Surprised Amanda Forsyth is not included. She was a student of Harrell, and both she and her husband Pinchas Zukerman were friends of his. When he played as guest artist with PZ’s Orchestra in Canada, he sat in after his concerto with the cello section, next to Amanda, who was principal, and played the symphony. I’ve seen other artists do that, but not many.

    • Anon says:

      She is too busy showing off her latest gowns on social media.

      It’s interesting that so many cellists do choose to sit with the section after a solo performance. There are quite a few who do it. You don’t often see it with other instruments.

      • MacroV says:

        I saw Nathaniel Rosen sit in on The Planets in Seattle about 30 years ago. He and Harrell were both principal cellists first so probably happy to revisit old times occasionally. Yo-Yo Ma does it once in a while.

        I heard a story that Fritz Kreisler tried it sometime, and said he got lost constantly, or something to that effect.

        • John Marks says:

          Ages ago, after playing the Scottish Fantasy with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Arturo Delmoni sat in the back for Sibelius 2. Most people were clueless, but those who caught it were thrilled.


          PS: I produced and put out Arturo Delmoni and Nathaniel Rosen’s violin-cello recital “Music for a Glass Bead Game.”

    • Stereo says:

      He did the same many years ago with us and actually sat at the back. Ex Bournemouth S O.

    • M2N2K says:

      According to Carnegie Hall’s official website, Amanda Forsyth is indeed participating in today’s event.

  • Iva Stafford says:

    Dear people, I am so greatful for you.Your music has helped us thew these days.I don’t know no one.I am on go fund me page.And was wondering if their was any way you could get my name out their It took a lot of people to take so much.It will take a lot of people to make things right as possible again.Either way God bless you and thank you.

  • scott says:

    Fred Sherry should be participating.

  • A.B says:

    if we are honest, the “biggest cellists” now a day (except maybe YoYoM), is nothing to be really proud of!!

  • Thank you for sharing Norman – all arguments about the headline aside…
    However, just to clarify – as far as I know (and I certainly hope I do!), it will be Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No.1 and NOT No.5 this time!

  • Bruce says:

    What a lovely idea. It brings to mind a lovely little video Harrell made a few years ago for Orlando Cole’s 100th (!) birthday.

    Ah, found it:

    Also: Ugh. Relax, people. You have all read Slipped Disc before, right? And anyway, any list that [seriously] claims to be complete is inevitably going to miss someone and/or be subject to claims of “how could you not include my cousin Robby, he’s super great, he won the concerto contest and solo’d with the Springfield Symphony last year!”

    But it’s great that Norman is getting all these extra clicks. Every little bit helps.

  • Nikolai says:

    Lynn Harrell, one of my top admirable genius cellist, I met him on his tour in Australia, listened to his life Dvorak concerto with Melbourne symphony orchestra! Had an hour conversation with him backstage after he performed Dvorak, maestro Li Wei Qin also was there. I always adored Lynn’s playing, always been wanting to see him in live again, and wanted to ask for cello playing advice… it’s a terrible shock to hear of an early death, just 76, this is really early… I can’t believe Lynn has passed away, he should’ve lived 15, 20 years longer… Its a real petty, and huge lost for World cello and music society!!!

  • JamesM says:

    I remember Lynn at the Stratford festival in Ontario during the summer of 1965. He was only 21 and the new prin cello in Cleveland. Oscar Shumsky ran the music side and the strings (mostly Toronto Symphony) were divided into quartets to present the late Beethoven’s on successive Saturday mornings.

    Lynn’s quartet was working through Op. 131 intensely, him especially, though he would occasionally break to do some of the funniest impersonations of famous cellists (Rostropovich, Casals). They were very subtle – all the gestures, but if you closed your eyes you heard totally accurate soundscapes too! I was there watching.

    What a great cellist – truly a larger-than-life personality as well!

  • TJSN says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. Frankly, I couldn’t care less who is considered “best”- I am just happy to have an opportunity to see these players pay tribute to their friend and colleague. Who knows when we’ll be able to gather together to celebrate Lynn in person. In the meantime, this will bring me, and I’m sure many others, much comfort.

  • MacroV says:

    A really classy gesture. Obviously many other great players (Truls Mork, Sol Gabetta, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and who knows how many great orchestral cellists) could have been included, but they only need 12.

    Maybe the Berlin Phil cellists could do something similar on the DCH one of these weeks.

    And the headline may not actually be so misleading: I’m sure all the world’s great cellists are paying tribute to him in some way or other.

  • M2N2K says:

    It does not matter that much if not “ALL” best cellists are participating and/or if not all participants are “BEST” cellists. What matters is that during these difficult and challenging times a large group of cellists several of whom are definitely among the finest are paying a loving and well-deserved tribute to the memory of their late colleague who was certainly one of the true greats of his time.

  • fflambeau says:

    The Carnegie Hall Website (which is at
    tells this much better:

    “American cellist Lynn Harrell’s half-century career placed him in the highest echelon of performing artists. A superstar roster of 12 fellow cellists celebrate Harrell’s life, including performances of Klengel’s Hymnus and the Preludio from Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No. 1.”

  • hunboi says:

    Where is Istvan Vardai? He currently plays on the ex-Du Pré-Harrell Stradivarius and he is one of the best…

  • Paul says:

    “Some” of the best cellists in the world, would probably have been more accurate, but it’s hardly a crime. The list could have stretched to twenty and people would still want to know why the “ten cellists who are better” were not included. Other cellists were probably asked, who subsequently refused for whatever reason.
    One could hardly publish a separate list just so we knew why they weren’t up there. I applaud those who are taking part.