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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Zara Nelsova Plays Dvořák

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Vinyl’s Revenge stays true to our ongoing look at concertos with a broadcast performance of Dvořák 's cello concerto by Canadian cellist Zara Nelsova (1918 - 2002).

Born of Russian-Jewish parentage in Winnipeg, she studied at London’s Royal College of Music and went on take lessons from Casals, Piatigorsky and Feuermann. She made her concerto debut at age 12 in 1932 in London (under Malcolm Sargent), and gave UK premieres of concertos by Hindemith, Samuel Barber, Hugh Wood and Ernst Bloch, who dedicated his three suites for unaccompanied cello to her.

When very young, she toured Australia, South Africa and the Far East with her two sisters in the Nelsova Trio. She became an American citizen in 1955, and a regular concerto soloist with all the major US orchestras, playing the Stradivari cello "Marquis de Corberon" of 1726 that had belonged to famed Portuguese cellist Guilhermina Suggia. Later in life, she became a devoted and much-loved teacher at New York’s Juilliard School of Music.
Nelsova’s playing had a noble eloquence and rapt inwardness, though in person she was buoyant, funny and extrovert.
Zara Nelsova has left a great number of stellar concertante performances on record, many of them from the 1950’s, and I know of at least three versions of the Dvořák, the most known being one with the St-Louis Symphony under Walter Susskind, and one from 1951 with the London Symphony under Josef Krips. The one I am providing today is from the Berlin RIAS from 1960. The Berlin RSO is conducted by Georg Ludwig Jochum, younger brother of better-known conductor Eugen Jochum. The younger Jochum was appointed General Music Director of the city of Münster in 1932, making him the youngest orchestral chief in Germany at the time.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 (B. 191)

Zara Nelsova, cello
Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, conducted by Georg Ludwig Jochum
Live recording of the performance of May 6, 1960
Longanesi Periodici ‎– GCL 31

YouTube URL -

April 17 2014, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Pablo de Sarasate (1844 - 1908)" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more on our blogs in English and in French.
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  1. itywltmt's Avatar
    We are featuring the music from this post as part of our ongoing “222 day Binge Challenge” on the For Your Listening Pleasure podcast September 5, 2021. The following notes are an update with useful links we have created or discovered since the original post.

    I was pleased to find this vintage radio broadcast performance by Mrs. Nelsova and Georg Ludwig Jochum on YouTube as part of the anthology collection of RIAS recordings made between 1956 and 1965 ”Portrait Zara Nelsova”. This anthology also includes works which she never recorded for a commercial label. It can be found at this address:It can be found, along with other performances by our soloist at this address:

    Many of the early posts in the Vinyl’s Revenge series did not have an archive page, as we relied entirely on the YouTube playlist discussed in the original post. Sometimes, the material (as was the case here) was uploaded from our vinyl collection, but sometimes relied on existing links that can disappear without notice. This is the reason why we later git in the habit of creating archive pages.
    The archive page for this Zara Nelsova post uses the newly discovered digital material:

    Happy (further) listening!