Zara Nelsova

Zara Nelsova, cellist, teacher (b at Winnipeg 23 Dec 1918; d at New York 10 Oct 2002) began playing a converted viola at the age of five with her father, a flutist and graduate of the Petrograd Conservatory.

Zara Nelsova, cellist, teacher (b at Winnipeg 23 Dec 1918; d at New York 10 Oct 2002) began playing a converted viola at the age of five with her father, a flutist and graduate of the Petrograd Conservatory. From 1924 she studied with Dezsö Mahalek, a former student of the great cellist David Popper. With her older sisters Ida on violin and Anna on piano, the Nelson Trio first performed in 1924 and created a sensation at the 1926 Manitoba Music Competition Festivals. Urged by adjudicators to seek further studies in England, the Nelsovas moved to London in 1928, where the now-named Canadian Trio appeared to great acclaim at Wigmore Hall. In 1930 Nelsova played the Lalo Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. The Trio toured in 1934-36 throughout Africa and Australia. In 1939 they toured Canada and remained there with the outbreak of the war. Nelsova became principal cellist (1940-43) of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and formed a new Canadian Trio with Kathleen Parlow and Ernest MacMillan (1941-44).

Further studies with Emanuel Feuermann and Gregor Piatigorsky, and after 1946 with Pablo Casals, opened up solo and concerto engagements for Nelsova. She made recordings with Samuel Barber and of the cello music of Ernest Bloch, who said "Zara Nelsova is my music." Having had many works written specifically for her, in 1955 she gave a famous series of recitals for cello alone in London and New York. In 1966 she became the first North American cellist to tour the Russian republics. Beginning her teaching career at the Juilliard School in 1962, she also taught at Rutgers University and often gave master classes at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She played a 1726 Stradivarius cello known as the "Marquis de Corberon."