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Norman Fischer

Head of Chamber Music, Tanglewood Music Center

Headshot of Norman Fischer with his cello.


Grammy-award winning cellist Norman Fischer has concertized on five continents and in 49 of the 50 United States. His 1983 New York solo debut of the Bach Six Suites in one evening was hailed by New York Times critic John Rockwell as "inspiring". During the 1994 season, Mr. Fischer's recording of William Bolcom's unaccompanied cello score was featured on Broadway as incidental music for Arthur Miller's most recent play, Broken Glass. Mr. Fischer was honored by being invited to open the 1995 Tanglewood Music Center season with a performance of Henri Dutilleux's Trois Strophes sur le nom Sacher, and during the 1996 Tanglewood season was similarly honored in presenting the world premiere of Mr. Bolcom's Suite in C Minor He has performed the standard concerto classics with conductors such as Lukas Foss, Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff and Efrain Guigui. He has also championed new works for the genre, such as the Robert Sirota Cello Concerto (Tanglewood 1985), the Augusta Read Thomas Vigil (Cleveland Chamber Symphony, recorded on the GM label), Steven Stucky Voyages (recorded for Opus One in 1991), and Ross Lee Finney's Narrative (with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, recorded for New World Records). Mr. Fischer was cellist with the Concord String Quartet through its 16-year career and winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, two Grammy nominations and an Emmy. In over 1000 concerts the quartet performed 18 Bartok cycles, 36 Beethoven cycles and premiered 50 works. They also recorded 40 works for RCA Red Seal, Vox, Nonesuch and CRI. Mr. Fischer’s chamber music expertise has led to performances with the American, Audubon, Axelrod, Blair, Cavani, Chester, Chiara, Ciompi, Cleveland, Dover, Ensō, Emerson, Jasper, Juilliard, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg and Telegraph string quartets, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Banff, Chamber Music International, Context (including a complete Beethoven piano trio cycle on period instruments), and Houston’s Da Camera Society. He has also served on many competition juries including the Premio Paolo Borciani, Naumburg, M-Prize, Fischoff, and Banff International String Quartet competitions. Mr. Fischer is the cellist with the Fischer Duo, a group with pianist Jeanne Kierman that was founded 50 years ago in 1971. The Duo specializes in both the classical masterworks of Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann as well as music of our own time. They have over a dozen recordings, with a new CD coming out in 2022 of new music celebrating their 50 years together. Most notable of the earlier recordings are: Imaginées: Music of French Masters, American Music in the 1990s, Born in America in 1938, Complete Cello Music of Robert Sirota, Complete Music for Cello and Piano of Chopin and Liszt, and Complete Cello Music of William Bolcom. The Beethoven Cello and Piano Complete on the Centaur label is the most comprehensive collection of Beethoven’s music for the two instruments. November 2018 saw the release on Centaur of Brahms: Complete Sonatas and Op. 91 Songs, which received select designations in Gramophone and The Strad. The Duo has premiered over 30 new scores by composers such as George Rochberg, Augusta Read Thomas, William Bolcom, Robert Sirota, Pierre Jalbert, and Richard Wilson. They continue to actively perform throughout the United States and twice have served as Artistic Ambassadors for the USIA with tours to South America and South Africa. They have also been hosted by the China Conservatory in Beijing and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy” in Leipzig for week long residencies. Mr. Fischer is currently Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Cello and Director of Chamber Music at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. Before accepting this position in 1992 he held positions at Dartmouth College and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Mr. Fischer also holds the Charles E. Culpepper Foundation Master Teacher Chair and is Head of Chamber Music at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he has been on the summer faculty since 1985. Mr. Fischer performs on a cello made for him by Sergio Peresson in 1972, and bows made for him by David Hawthorne. He is also a Larsen Performing Artist and uses “Il Cannone” strings.