Jules Eskin



Competition Winner

Born: October 20, 1931 (Philadelphia, PA)

Died: November 15, 2016 (Brookline, MA)

Jules Eskin, an American cellist, was the principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for more than half a century. He played for five music directors: Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, and Andris Nelsons. Prior to joining the BSO, he spent three years with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, and seven years with the New York City Opera.

Mr. Eskin was a founding member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, which Erich Leinsdorf established in 1964. Upon its founding, it was the only chamber ensemble made up of the principal players of a major orchestra. With the Chamber Players, he recorded extensively and toured throughout the world including a series of concerts in the former Soviet Union, 1967, and South America, 1998.

Mr. Eskin began his cello studies with his father, Samuel, an amateur cellist. At age 16, he joined the Dallas Symphony under Antal Dorati. He studied with Janos Starker and later at Curtis with Gregor Piatigorsky and Leonard Rose. In 1948, he was a fellowship student at the Tanglewood Music Center, performing in the TMC Orchestra under Serge Koussevitsky. In 1954, Mr. Eskin was named a winner in the Naumburg Competition giving his NY debut recital in a Town Hall concert, leading to an extended European concert tour. He also attended the Marlboro Music Festival and played with the Casals Festival Orchestra in Puerto Rico.

During the Korean War, Mr. Eskin played in the Army Band.

Other chamber music collaborations included with Isaac Stern and Friends and the Guarneri String Quartet, and piano trio performances with Arnold Steinhardt and pianist Lydia Artymiw.

“I think some of the most beautiful sounds that I’ve ever heard came out of his cello,” the violinist Arnold Steinhardt, a founder of the Guarneri String Quartet, said in a statement after the death.

Quote from Andris Nelsons, former BSO Music Director

"It is terribly sad for all of us in the Boston Symphony family to hear of the passing of our very dear Jules Eskin, a treasured member of our Family and legendary cellist of the orchestra for 53 years... I feel so honored to have had the privilege of working with Jules during my first two years with the orchestra. With his incredible leadership of the cello section and the profound link he provided to the past brought this great orchestra such a wealth of experience and influenced the glorious sound of the orchestra for more than half a century, a staggering commitment for which we owe him so much."

Quote from Yo-Yo Ma

"Jules Eskin is a legend in the cello world. A role model for me, he has always embodied the best of what a cellist could be -- a consummate musician, as a solo artist, an ensemble musician, and as principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 53 years. "


1954 Naumburg Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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