The Strad News – Tributes pour in for cellist Fred Zlotkin


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The death of American cellist, teacher and artist Fred Zlotkin was announced on September 2, 2022. “It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of my brother, Fred Zlotkin,” said conductor Leonard Slatkin on social networks. “He was a wonderful father, musician and friend.”

Zlotkin was a graduate of the Juilliard School and studied with Gregor Piatigorsky, Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins. He became the longtime principal cellist of the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, a position he held from 1972 until his retirement last year. Zlotkin has performed many works with choreography in the ballet, including Walton’s Concerto (Peter Martins, choreographer), Tchaikovsky’s Roccoco Variations (Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer) and Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata (Melissa Barak, choreographer) in addition to many other solo and chamber music. works.

“Devastated to hear the sad news of the passing of Fred Zlotkin,” wrote Katharina Kang Litton, principal violist of New York City Ballet. ‘Fred was the principal cellist of our orchestra for 50 years and was the kindest colleague and friend you could wish for. He will be missed terribly.’

As a soloist, he was a past winner of the Geneva International Music Competition and has had solo engagements with the Orchester de la Suisse romande, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Orchester symphonique national and the Orchester symphonique of Saint Louis.

His chamber music appearances include as a member of the Lyric Piano Quartet, guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Aspen Music Festival, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, Minnesota Sommerfest and the BridgeMusik Festival.

“Fred was a member of our advisory board and has also performed at nearly every BridgeMusik gig since the program’s inception — including several gigs this summer,” BridgeMusik said on social media. “He mentored our students and inspired our teachers. Fred leaves a huge void in our community and in our hearts. We will never forget it.’

A prolific artist, he has recorded for hundreds of films and with many contemporary artists such as Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young and many more.

Zlotkin served as president of the Violoncello Society (VCS) Inc. of New York from 2017 to 2019. “Fred was an amazing person as well as an extremely gifted cellist,” wrote current VCS president Kate Dillingham, on social networks. “I will always remember a joyful, robust, passionate artist with a big heart and a warm smile. He has made many valuable contributions to the music world and to the VCS. I will miss him.’

A member of the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Queens College, Hoff-Barthelson Music School, and Brooklyn College of Music, he was also an assistant professor at SUNY-Purchase and music director of the Montauk Chamber Music Society.


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