Nathaniel Rosen was born in California in 1948 and grew up playing string quartets with his father, who was an amateur violist. His first cello teacher was Eleonore Schoenfeld, with whom he began lessons at the age of 6. At 13, he joined the Piatigorsky Master Class at the University of Southern California and later became Piatigorsky's teaching assistant. From the age of 16 he played as a commercial musician in the recording and movie studios of Los Angeles and later taught at California State University at Northridge. His orchestral positions have included Principal Cellist of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Neville Marriner and Principal Cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony with Andre Previn. He received First Prizes in the Kimber Award, the Naumburg Competition and, most notably, the 1978 Tchaikovsky Competition, where he was the first American, non-Soviet cellist to receive the Gold Medal.He has performed all over the world as soloist with great conductors and orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Czech Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Since 2011 he has made his home in Japan.