Raphael Wallfisch (7 January)
One of today’s most celebrated cellists, Raphael Wallfisch was born into a family of musicians. His mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was for many years a cellist in the English Chamber Orchestra and is still active on the lecture circuit talking about her internment in Auschwitz, where she played in the Women’s Orchestra. Raphael’s father, Peter Wallfisch, was a distinguished pianist. His son, Benjamin Wallfisch, is a composer. There will no doubt be a wide range of topics to discuss in conversation with Putney Music’s vice-president, Steven Isserlis.
With teachers including Amaryllis Fleming, Amadeo Baldovino and Derek Simpson, it soon became apparent that the cello was to be Raphael Wallfisch’s life work, and he went on to study with the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky in California and played chamber music with Jascha Heifetz in the informal recitals Piatigorsky held at his California home. Since then he has enjoyed a worldwide career with most of the world’s greatest orchestras, and his extensive discography of some 70 discs covers both the standard repertory and lesser-known works by Dohnányi, Respighi, Barber, Hindemith and Martinu. Composers who have written works for him include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Kenneth Leighton, Sir James MacMillan, Robert Saxton, Sir John Tavener and Robert Simpson.
When not playing and teaching, his grandchildren, cooking and reading provide a welcome contrast.