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Eleonore Schoenfeld (1925 – January 1, 2007) is considered one of the most influential cellists of the 20th century.
Born in Maribor, Slovenia to a Polish father and a Russian mother, Schoenfeld moved to Berlin with her family at age six. She proceeded to study ballet, violin, and piano before switching to cello at age eleven. Her first teacher was Karl Niedermeyer, a pupil of Hugo Becker, with whom she studied until age fourteen. From there she entered the prestigious Hochschule für Musik in Berlin - eighteen being the traditional age of entry. She then spent the next four years studying with Adolf Steiner, a well-known soloist.
In 1952, Schoenfeld's parents, weary of the Russian dictatorship, led the Schoenfeld family to flee to the United States. From there, a connection from the Idyllwild Arts Academy led the then-dean of the USC Thornton School of Music to ask her, and her sister Alice, a concert violinist, to join the faculty. They remained there since, serving alongside Gregor Piatigorsky, Jascha Heifetz, and many other distinguished musicians.
Through the span of her career, Schoenfeld produced over 200 recordings, recorded by the BBC. Her students have also become top prizewinners in competitions such as Geneva, the Casals Competition (Budapest), Tchaikovsky (Russia), Markneukirchen (Germany) and the Concert Artist Guild (U.S.). Her students have also performed repeatedly as soloists with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Georgian Chamber Orchestra (former Soviet republic of Georgia), and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Germany) with such eminent conductors as Zubin Mehta, Horst Stein, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gerard Schwarz and Carl St. Clair.
In 2008 PBS made an hour long documentary titled "Born to Teach" about Eleonore Schoenfeld's life.
- USC Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2004
- USC Ramo Music Faculty Award
- Indiana University Grand Dame du Violoncelle Eva Janzer Memorial Award
- American String Teachers Association National Distinguished Service Award
- Music Teachers National Association Lifetime Achievement Award
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