Piatigorsky_GregorGregor Piatigorsky was a Jewish-Ukrainian musician who earned a place among the finest string players of all time. Beginning in early childhood Piatigorsky began studying the violin and piano until the age of seven when, at his own insistence, he chose the cello. His talent developed quickly and he soon found himself performing at local cafes to earn money for his family. By the time of the Russian Revolution, the fifteen year old Piatigorsky had been trained at the Moscow Conservatory and was the principal cellist for Moscow's famous Bolshoi Theater. 

Eager to improve his playing, smuggled himself out of the Soviet Union at age 18 to continue training in Germany. Studying briefly in Berlin and Leipzig, Piatigorsky soon earned a position at the Berlin Philharmonic which he held for the following eight years. He left in 1929 to pursue a career as a travelling performer, and accepted positions in the United States at the New York Philharmonic among others. 

Piatigorsky's travelling career continued until the birth of his son in 1940. From that point onwards, he focused on teaching, but also performed regularly. Over the following thirty years, he taught at Tanglewood, Boston University, and The University of Southern California (where he remained until his death). He made several recordings, and performed pieces which were written specifically for him by composers such as Prokofiev and Stravinksy. 

Although Piatigorsky's technique was always exceptional, it is for the emotional intensity of his interpretations which he is remembered today. 

Gregor “Grisha” Piatigorsky died of lung cancer in 1976, in Los Angeles.