"...a musician of the highest class." The Times
The distinguished career of Texas-born Ralph Kirshbaum encompasses the worlds of solo performance, chamber music, and recording and clearly places him in "...the highest echelon of today's cellists." (Los Angeles Times) He enjoys the affection and respect not only of audiences worldwide but also of his many eminent colleagues.
Over the years Ralph Kirshbaum has appeared with most of the world's great orchestras and conductors. Most recently these have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Mehta), Cleveland Orchestra (Dohnanyi), San Francisco Symphony (Blomstedt), Boston Symphony (Previn), Pittsburgh Symphony (Lutoslawski), London Symphony (Sir Colin Davis), BBC Symphony (Andrew Davis) and the Orchestre de Paris (Bychkov) in repertoire ranging from Haydn and Dvorak to Prokofiev and Lutoslawski. In May this year Ralph Kirshbaum toured the UK in performances of the Elgar Cello Concerto and Bloch Schelomo with the Prague Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yiri Belohlávek. Next season he will perform the Elgar concerto with the Tonhalle Orchestra and the Walton Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the opening festivities of Manchester's Bridgewater Hall.
In 1988 he founded and became Artistic Director of the RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival at which every two years he gathers together his many friends amongst the world's great cellists in a celebration of the cello, its music and musicians. The fourth festival, during which he premiered a concerto by the American composer Yehudi Wyner, took place from 27 April to 1 May 1994 under the patronage of HRH The Duchess of Kent, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Georg Solti. The fifth festival took place, to enthusiastic acclaim, from 1 -5 May 1996.
On 1 March 1996 Ralph Kirshbaum's fiftieth birthday celebrations opened with a gala concert at the Wigmore Hall, followed on 13 March by a solo recital in which he performed three Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. Later in the month celebrations continued with a chamber music concert with Pinchas Zukerman, György Pauk and Peter Frankl in the Barbican Centre, and the following night a concert with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in which he gave performances of the Dvorak Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman. This performance of the Brahms was subsequently recorded for BMG Classics. Indeed, a close affinity with the Brahms Double Concerto has in the past seasons brought him together with his long-standing friend and colleague Gyorgy Pauk and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Weller); Dimitry Sitkovetsky and the London Symphony (Nagano); and Pinchas Zukerman with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Mehta) and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Rattle).
A special love for the Elgar Concerto dates from his memorable televised performance with Sir Charles Groves at the Jubilee Proms in 1977. Of a more recent performance with the Boston Symphony, Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe wrote: "His playing of this noble music of regret and farewell is subtle, intense, piercingly sad and absolutely spellbinding." In the 1991 BBC Proms he gave a much acclaimed performance with Libor Pesek and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic ("...poetry flowing freely from the artist's imagination." The Times). He performed the concerto to open the 1994 season of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Bach too forms an important part of Ralph Kirshbaum's current activities. 1993 opened with an enthusiastically received Bach cycle at the Wigmore Hall. Sydney followed in July with further cycles in Manchester and New York. Last year he performed the cycle in Lyon and Edinburgh, and this season in San Francisco. Other Bach evenings followed in Cambridge, Glasgow and the Wigmore Hall.
Much in demand throughout the world, Ralph Kirshbaum will return in July 1996, for an extensive ABC tour of Australia, having had a great success in the 1993/94 season when he gave the Asian premiere of the Maxwell Davies Cello Concerto. His tour of Switzerland in 1993 with the English Chamber Orchestra and Pinchas Zukerman culminated in a recording for BMG Classics of Haydn's D major Concerto and Sinfonia Concertante augmenting a discography which includes the 1983 Gramophone Magazine "Record of the Year" world premiere recording of Tippett's Triple Concerto for Philips, the Elgar and Walton Concertos for Chandos, the Barber Concerto and Sonata for Virgin Classics and the Ravel, Shostakovich and Brahms Trios for EMI. Of his recording of the Walton Concerto the composer wrote: "It is most heartening to hear a performance in which everything is just right - it is excellent and moving". The complete Bach Suites for Solo Cello, released to great critical acclaim, appear on the Virgin Classics label. In addition to his regular appearances in the UK and USA the current season includes concerts in Japan, Hong Kong and Spain.
Each year Ralph Kirshbaum appears at several of the great international festivals which recently have included Edinburgh, Bath, Lucerne, Aspen, La Jolla, Santa Fe, Ravinia and New York's Mostly Mozart. In April 1994 he appeared in the opening concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra's American Festival playing the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and in July of that year returned to the BBC Proms in a performance of Bloch's Schelomo with Yan Pascal Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic. This year he gave several concerts at the Bath Festival, as soloist with orchestra, in a solo recital, and in chamber music.
Ralph Kirshbaum's delight in the pleasures of chamber music collaboration ensures space in a busy solo schedule to continue his long associations with Gyorgy Pauk, Peter Frankl and Pinchas Zukerman. In 1997 Peter Frankl, Gyorgy Pauk and Ralph Kirshbaum will celebrate their 25th Anniversary with a return visit to the Concertgebouw and concerts in Spain and Denmark. In May 1997 they will give a series of recitals and master classes at the Wigmore Hall.
Ralph Kirshbaum teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and gives annual master classes at The International Musician's Seminar in Prussia Cove and at the Juilliard School in New York.
The rare Montagnana Cello which Ralph Kirshbaum plays once belonged to the 19th century virtuoso, Piatti.
Though resident in London with his wife and son, Ralph Kirshbaum remains a US citizen with a great love of American football, tennis and Texan food.
Ralph Kirshbaum is exclusively represented bv Ingpen and Williams Ltd.