PEOPLE

Gemma Rosefield

Thursday, 07 November 2013

The UK cellist on her most inspirational teacher

Zara Nelsova was a dramatic force of nature who insisted on going for it in every performance

When I was eleven, I was introduced to an imposing, elderly lady, resplendent in a scarlet ball gown. It was Zara Nelsova. I met her again when I was 18, studying at the Royal Academy of Music and had lessons with her when she visited London. Later, I travelled to her home in New York to study with her.

It was an extraordinary opportunity to study with someone who had been taught by Feuermann, Casals and Piatigorsky. Zara had also collaborated closely with both Bloch and Barber, and her understanding of their musical ideas was invaluable. For her Zara, characterful playing, beauty of sound and the intentions of the composer – about which she was meticulous – were paramount. She was passionate about communicating with her audience, through her music making.

Zara was a dramatic force of nature and she insisted on ‘going for it’ in every performance.  She was also intensely human. She loved to gossip about clothes and make-up and would even call and ask me to bring her a certain lipstick from the UK. I loved the time I spent with this amazing and inspiring woman.

Originally published in The Strad, January 2011. Download the digital edition of the issue or subscribe to it as part of our 30-day free trial.

Photo: Marco Borggreve



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