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The Greats (Nov 21, 2013; edited Nov 3, 2015)

Gravely and Vigorously: In Memory of President John F. Kennedy

For solo cello by Henry Cowell, dated November 23rd, 1963.

When composer Henry Cowell heard the news of President Kennedy's assassination on November 22nd of 1963, he was in shock, disbelief and great pain. That late afternoon he began composing a piece for solo cello. While still holding a vain hope that news of the President's death would be contradicted, Cowell worked on the cello piece until the following morning, and dated it "November 23rd" upon finish. According to Mrs. Cowell, "[the piece's] title was taken from the headings of the movements: GRAVELY for present shock and grief, VIGOROUSLY for the most visible quality of a man the composer liked, admired, and always mourned." Henry Cowell sent the manuscript of the cello piece to Mrs. Kennedy to express his sympathy, and the holograph is among the papers in the Kennedy Library.

Photo: John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office (Photograph by Cecil Stoughton, White House)

The Greats (Nov 14, 2013)

Remembering John Tavener and his music

Composer John Tavener, whose works had a broad appeal to both classical music lovers and general audiences, passed away this Tuesday, November 12th at his home in southern England.

His epic cello concerto, "The Protecting Veil", was an enormous success at its premiere given by Steven Isserlis with Oliver Knussen conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Its subsequent recording, performed by Isserlis with the London Symphony Orchestra under Gennady Rozhdestvensky, topped the classical charts for several months, won a Gramophone Award and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

It's bittersweet that a few months ago, in anticipation of his 70th birthday, Tavener's publisher Chester Music released the cello and piano reduction of "The Protecting Veil" (available at

The Greats (Updated on Sep 30, 2013)

Celebrating Janos Starker's discography

Update: Here is the final result of our poll, and thank you for sharing your memorable Starker recordings with us.

Final result of our Starker poll

Janos Starker, a revered cellist and legendary teacher who has inspired countless cellists, musicians and music lovers all over the world, passed away in Bloomington, Indiana on April 28, 2013.

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where Distinguished Professor Janos Starker continued to teach until close to his death, has announced a memorial event in his honor to be held on campus on Sunday, September 22 at 4pm in the Musical Arts Center.

For cellists, musicians and Starker fans that are not able to attend the memorial event at IU, please join us to celebrate Starker's life and legacy through his extensive discography of more than 165 works.

Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University