Lament for a US cellist, 90

Lament for a US cellist, 90


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2022

We have been notified of the death in a care facility of Leslie Parnas, joint second-placed in the 1962 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition and a sought-after soloist with many orchestras in the US, Russia and Baltic states.

A celebrated performer of the Elgar concerto, he played a 1698 Matteo Goffriller cello.


  • Amos says:

    Superb musician and the one time I met him was incredibly gracious.

  • The gentleman was quite hot back in the day. Boruch dayan emess.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Seem to recall he recorded the Schubert
    “Arpeggione” and Barber sonatas, en situ,
    in 1962 for a Russian label. Soon after I heard his “Schelomo” in concert.

    Impassioned playing….a true inspiration.

  • Marcel says:

    He was 90. And cannot be called a runner-up, since no higher prize was awarded in 1962.

    • Fliszt says:

      Natalia Shakovskaya won 1st prize in 1962, and Parnas tied for 2nd prize.

    • Nathaniel Rosen says:

      With greatest respect to the memory of this great cellist, there was a first prize given to the late Natalia Shachovskaya in the Tchaikovsky Cello Competition of 1962.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Thank you for including this Brahms clip, which interestingly features the great violinist James Buswell – whose recent death was inexplicably overlooked by slippedisc.

  • LolaViola says:

    Rest in peace, Mr. Parnas. His kindness and wisdom was truly inspirational. My condolences to his family.

  • Neale Perl says:

    I studied with Mr. Parnas for four summers as a teenager at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine. It was a great privilege to hear him perform virtually the entire repertoire of chamber music masterpieces both at the festival and at CMS in NY.

    He was an inspiration to all young cellists of his day (and his colleagues) and will be greatly missed. He will live on through his amazing recordings and the work of his students.

    He was a connection to his teachers Casals and Piatigorsky – who he bought up to Kneisel Hall one summer to perform the great Schubert two-cello Quintet, with Mr. Trampler as the violist. It was a performance for the ages! RIP

  • fflambeau says:

    Sad, but he lived until he was 90. A true musician. RIP.

  • Allen Linkowski says:

    A wonderful tribute to a great artist. The pianist in the clip, unfortunately mis-identified, is, actually, Murray Perahia.

  • Richard Kennedy says:

    Parnas plays the beautiful cello obligato in Haydn’s Symphony 95 with Casals conducting the Marlboro Festival Orchestra. Wonderful. Vale Leslie Parnas. Richard Kennedy

  • Maryse Carlin says:

    So many memories attached to Leslie, a force of nature, wonderful musician, generous and quirky personality. Another loss, too soon after his friend Jamie Buswell’s.

  • Katrina Reinhardt says:

    Studying with Leslie for 4 years introduced me to the highest level of musicianship and kindness as well. I loved the man and every note he ever played. RIP