David Finckel

Artistic Director

Cello

David Finckel Photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Co-artistic director of CMS since 2004, cellist David Finckel leads a dynamic musical career that has included performances on the world’s most distinguished stages as well as ground-breaking entrepreneurial projects. As cellist of the Emerson String Quartet for 34 seasons, he leaves a legacy of performed and recorded chamber music that includes virtually the complete string quartets of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Dvorák, Brahms, Bartók, and Shostakovich, as well as the additional collaborative masterpieces and discoveries that he performs annually. His solo and duo discography is equally comprehensive, including all the standard literature for cello and piano. Fascinated since student days by recording technology, he created ArtistLed with pianist Wu Han in 1997, the first internet-based classical label to allow artists complete control over repertoire, sound engineering, editing, packaging, and presentation. His discography includes works composed for him by George Tsontakis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Bruce Adolphe, Lera Auerbach, Augusta Read Thomas, and Pierre Jalbert, and his orchestral recordings include both the Dvorák and Harbison Concertos. His commitment to living luthiers is evidenced through his performances, since 1993, on a cello made for him by the Brooklyn maker Samuel Zygmuntowicz, a copy of the “Duport” Stradivari cello of 1711. At age ten, deeply inspired by the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, he committed himself to life as a cellist, and at age 16 became Rostropovich’s first American student. After first playing with pianist Wu Han in 1981, he added to his already busy career the responsibilities and opportunities of a professional cello-and-piano duo, both in the recording studio and on the concert stage. Finckel co-directs CMS’s Bowers Program, and as founder and artistic director of Music@Menlo, the festival’s annual Chamber Music Institute. He teaches cello and chamber music at both the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University.