The cello world has been shocked and saddened by the passing of legendary cellist Lynn Harrell. Mr. Harrell’s career as an internationally renowned soloist, chamber musician, and teacher spanned more than five decades. His singularly beautiful sound will be remembered by future generations through the many recordings he leaves behind. All of us at CelloBello mourn his loss and send our deepest condolences to Mr. Harrell’s family and loved ones.

CelloBello founder, Paul Katz, reflects on his life-long friendship with Mr. Harrell:

It’s hard to believe Lynn is gone. Even with COVID-19 deaths all around us, 60,000 in the US alone in just the last three months, it still doesn’t get easier when it’s a friend. This unexpected loss hits hard.

Lynn and I first met in the early ’60s as students of Leonard Rose at the Meadowmount School of Music. He was already a gentle giant, and his size and enormous paw-like hands had earned him the nickname “Bruin.” It was only a few years later that he became Principal Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, an astounding honor for his young age of 21. In addition to Cleveland, we spent a number of years together at the Aspen Festival and lived one summer in the same apartment building where we drank coffee, visited, talked cello and played a few times for each other (though a sweet personality, Lynn was such a superhuman cello phenomenon that it was scary to play for him—I doubt that he felt the same way about me!).

Our lives continued to intersect frequently: we once found ourselves in the same hotel in Florence, Italy; he played the Schubert Quintet with the Cleveland Quartet in London and I remember his second movement pizzicatos resonating all over Queen Elizabeth Hall; he replaced me as cello professor at Rice when I moved to the New England Conservatory.

Of the many performances of Lynn’s that I heard over 50 years, some of the most memorable were his Haydn Concerto in C Major in London, the Dutilleux Concerto in Houston, and the Lutoslawski Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

A consummate master of the instrument, and a man with a heart as big as his physical bearing, we will miss him!