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Born in 1903
Inducted in 2011
Gregor Piatigorsky was born on April 17, 1903 in Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine. He began the cello at the age of seven, quickly finding his way to the Moscow Conservatory of Music two years later. By the age of 15, he was both principal cellist of the Bolshoi Opera Orchestra and a member of the famed "Beethoven String Quartet," later renamed the "Lenin String Quartet."
After playing in the Warsaw Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic, Piatigorsky embarked on what was to become a legendary solo career. He traveled throughout the world, demonstrating the cello’s extraordinary qualities to people everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest towns. An inimitable artist, he was noted for his mastery of formidable bowings and intense vibrato. As he collaborated with composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith and William Walton, Piatigorsky developed and expanded the technique of the cello, commissioning and premiering a number of works now considered canon. The chamber group formed of violinist Jascha Heifetz, pianist Artur Rubinstein and Piatigorsky—commonly referred to as the “Million Dollar Trio”—saw international renown in their recordings and on tour.
Piatigorsky and his family moved to Philadelphia when he was appointed to the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1941. In 1949, he relocated to Los Angeles, first teaching at UCLA and then joining violinist Jascha Heifetz on the faculty of the University of Southern California in 1962. Gregor Piatigorsky died of lung cancer at his home in California on August 6, 1976.