December 19, 1958 - London (England)
Acclaimed worldwide for his technique and musicianship, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher.
Highlights of recent and future seasons include performances with the Berlin Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, the Washington National Symphony and the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer, the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vanska's baton, the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta and Kurt Masur, and the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy and Andras Schiff.
He has also participated in a European tour with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysees and Philippe Herreweghe; two concerts in which he directed the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in an all-Haydn programme; recitals at London's Wigmore Hall with Andras Schiff, Thomas Ades, Olli Mustonen and Stephen Hough; a major Australian recital tour with Denes Varjon; chamber music concerts at the Salzburg Festival with Joshua Bell, Denes Varjon, Jorg Widmann and Emily Beynon; and two appearances at the 2009 BBC Proms.
His latest recording release is an all-Schumann disc, again with Várjon, for Hyperion, of which Gramophone magazine said, 'For all that Isserlis has made many wonderful recordings, not least his seminal Bach suites, I think this might just be his finest yet.'
Steven Isserlis takes a strong interest in authentic performance and has played with many of the foremost period instrument orchestras. Recent seasons have seen Isserlis perform Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Simon Rattle, and Beethoven's complete works for cello and keyboard with fortepianist Robert Levin in Boston and London.
As a chamber musician, Isserlis is renowned for his collaborations with other artists and for his ingenuity and innovation in programming. He enjoys a close association with London's Wigmore Hall and has devised several series of themed programmes for them in recent years. In 2009 he programmed three concerts celebrating the music of Schumann, Mendelssohn and Chopin, for the 92nd St Y in New York, which he performed with Joshua Bell, Denes Varjon and Daniel Phillips.
Steven Isserlis is also a keen exponent of contemporary music, and has worked with many composers on new commissions since giving the world premiere of John Tavener's Protecting Veil at the BBC Proms in 1989. In 2006 he gave the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm's Cello Concerto at the Salzburg Festival, and at the 2009 Aldeburgh Festival he premiered Thomas Ades's new work for cello and piano, Lieux Retrouves, together with the composer; they will also perform it together in London and New York.
Writing and playing for children is another major interest for Isserlis. His first book, a children's history of the lives of six great composers, Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, was published by Faber and Faber in 2001 to great acclaim, and a sequel, Why Handel Waggled his Wig, was published in 2006. Both books have been translated into many languages.
Since 2006 he has presented a series of concerts for children, based on his books, at the 92nd St Y in New York. With pianist Stephen Hough he has recorded a CD, Children's Cello, and with composer Anne Dudley he has written three musical stories for children: Little Red Violin, Goldiepegs and the Three Cellos, and Cindercella all of which he premiered at the 92nd St Y with Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk and others, and which are published by Universal Edition in Vienna.
As a teacher, Steven Isserlis gives frequent masterclasses all around the world, and for the past twelve years he has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians' Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall.
With an award-winning discography, Steven Isserlis's recordings reflect his diverse interests in repertoire. His recent release of the complete Solo Cello Suites by Bach on the Hyperion label met with the highest critical acclaim and won many awards, including Gramophone magazine's Instrumental Disc of the Year and Critic's Choice at the 2008 Classical Brits.
Other recent releases include the Brahms Sonatas with Stephen Hough, coupled with works by Dvorak and Suk, also for Hyperion, and a disc for BIS of arrangements for cello chamber orchestra all commissioned by Isserlis.
The recipient of many honours, Steven Isserlis was in awarded a CBE in 1998 in recognition of his services to music, and in 2000 he received the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau.
Steven Isserlis plays the 'Feuermann' or 'De Munck' Stradivarius of 1730, kindly loaned to him by the Nippon Music Foundation of Japan, and the Marquis de Corberon (Nelsova) Stradivarius of 1726, kindly loaned to him by the Royal Academy of Music.