Steven Isserlis is een Brits cellist die tot dit instrument werd aangetrokken door het zien van Jacqueline du Pré. Onnodig er dus aan toe te voegen dat ook hij “disgusted” is door de film “Hillary and Jackie”.
Isserlis was born in London on 19 December 1958 into a musical family. His grandfather, Julius Isserlis, was a Russian Jew (the name ‘Isserlis’ is one of many European variations of the Hebrew name ‘Israel’). He was one of 12 musicians allowed to leave Russia in the 1920s to promote Russian culture, but he never returned. On the Midweek programme on 29 January 2014, Steven Isserlis revealed that on arrival in Vienna in 1922, his pianist grandfather and father found a flat, but the 102-year-old landlady refused to take in a musician, because her aunt had a previous musician tenant who was noisy and would spit on the floor — this tenant was Ludwig van Beethoven [*]. Steven’s mother was a piano teacher, and his father was a keen amateur musician. His sister Annette is a viola player, and his other sister Rachel is a violinist. Isserlis has described how “playing music, playing together”, was an integral part of his early family life. [**]
He went to the City of London School, which he left at the age of 14 to move to Scotland to study under the tutelage of Jane Cowan. From 1976 to 1978 Isserlis studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Richard Kapuscinski. Ever since his youth Daniil Shafran has been his cello hero, of whom Isserlis has described how “his vibrato, his phrasing, his rhythm all belonged to a unique whole… He was incapable of playing one note insincerely; his music spoke from the soul.” [aldus Wikipedia, waar er dus geen sprake is van Jacqueline du Pré…]
(*) Een mooi verhaal, maar wellicht met een korreltje zout te nemen, aangezien Beethoven al overleden is in 1827, dus bijna honderd jaar eerder…
(**) His wife Pauline Mara was a flautist. She died of cancer in June 2010.