Steven Isserlis is a cellist whose passion for music transcends conventional divisions. Acclaimed worldwide for his musicality and technique alike, he is equally at home drawing the audience into his circle of friends for chamber music or in recital; delving into the historical archives to emerge with a forgotten gem; or on the concert platform with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and conductors.
British-born Isserlis takes a strong interest in authentic performance, playing with many of the foremost period instrument orchestras. Recent seasons have seen Isserlis perform all Beethoven’s works for cello with fortepianist Robert Levin both in Boston and at London’s Wigmore Hall. Last season he performed the Dvorák Cello Concerto with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Simon Rattle.
Schumann is a particular passion for Isserlis, and in 2007 he performed Schumann’s Cello Concerto on a major tour of Germany, spearheaded a Schumann project in Japan, and performed in an evening of words and music dedicated to the story of Schumann and Brahms with a script written by Isserlis 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 October 2001, and a sequel, entitled Why Handel Waggled his Wig, was published in 2006.
Isserlis’ interest in musical education has another outlet in the masterclasses he gives regularly all over the world; and for the past ten years he has been Artistic Director of the masterclass and chamber music seminar IMS Prussia Cove.
With an award-winning discography, Isserlis’ recordings reflect his diverse interests in repertoire. His most recent release is of the complete Solo Cello Suites by Bach on the Hyperion label, which has been met with the highest critical acclaim and won many awards.
Awarded a CBE in 1998 in recognition of his services to music, Steven Isserlis has received many honours, including in 2000 the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau (Schumann’s birthplace).