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Cellist Leslie Parnas has Died, Age 90


Making his solo debut at age 14 with the St. Louis Symphony, at age 16, Parnas entered the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of Gregor Piatigorsky.

From the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, Parnas was the principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He went on to be a prizewinner at the Tchaikovsky, Geneva, and Musich International Cello Competitions, as well as a Pablo Casals Prize recipient at the Paris International Cello Competition.

Parnas was later personally invited by Pablo Casals to play at his music festivals in Prades and Puerto Rico. As he gained more international prominence, Parnas made his New York Philharmonic debut performing the Schumann Cello Concerto in the early 1960s and appeared often as a soloist in Europe and Russia.

He frequently collaborated with conductor and violinist Alexander Schneider with whom he appeared many times in The Schneider Concerts at The New School and in the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts series in New York.

Along with Jaime Laredo and members of the Guarneri Quartet, Parnas became part of a group of prominent musicians at Vermont's Marlboro Music Festival in the 1960s.

Artistic Director of the Marlboro Music Festival, Rudolf Serkin, played and recorded the Beethoven Triple and Trout Quintet with Parnas and Laredo, in addition to touring with them in Europe in 1965.

Parnas appears on many Marlboro recordings, including the acclaimed 1964 performance of the Mendelssohn Octet with Laredo, Schneider, Rhodes, and the then newly formed Guarneri Quartet.

In addition to touring widely in a trio with James Buswell and Lee Luvisi, he also performed regularly as a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Later in his career, he was Artistic Director of the Kneisel Hall Summer Music School in Blue Hill, Maine for twelve years and served on the faculty of Boston University until he retired.

Our condolences to Mr. Parnas' family, friends, colleagues, and students.

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