Bernard Greenhouse

Conversation with Bernard Greenhouse

 Reprinted from Internet Cello Society 11/28/98 By Tim Janof: TJ: You studied with Felix Salmond who also taught Leonard Rose. BG: When I was 18, I had to choose between entering a pre-med program or trying out for Juilliard. I chose to try for a Juilliard fellowship, which I was awarded, and I began to study with Felix Salmond. He was sort of a funnel for talent from all over the United States, since there weren't many cellists at the time. There were only eight cellists at Juilliard, as well as at Curtis, and each one was a very gifted player. TJ: Did you attend school with Leonard Rose?  BG: No, he was at Curtis, in Philadelphia, though we were quite aware of each other because of our common teacher. I remember going [...]

Reflections on Bernard Greenhouse and the Importance of the Back — by Selma Gokcen

"We are learning to do consciously what Nature intended."  —F.M. Alexander Spending a week remembering Bernard Greenhouse on CelloBello brought back memories of many hours of lively conversations and shared experiences. Bernie had naturally what we call 'a back' in the Alexander Technique, and there is no faking or pretending to have a either do or you don't, and the evidence of it is felt in the power of presence. The back mediates all our responses—a strong and expansive back gives one the ability to speak and act from a place of natural authority. Bernie's quiet but strong presence when playing, teaching or just conversing emanated from that central core that Casals spoke about, and which no doubt magnetized Bernie from far away and moved him across an ocean in search of the master. Like recognized like. One [...]

Happy 100th Birthday Bernard Greenhouse – Born January 3. 1916

A Remembrance of Things Present — by Elena Delbanco

Bernard Greenhouse with his daughter, Elena   In the aftermath of a grand celebration of Bernie’s 95th birthday, in Wellfleet, five years ago—a dinner for seventy five people—Bernie and I sat at the round, marble table so many of you may remember, facing the harbor. As guests had arrived and the house reverberated with laughter and conversation, he had lain in bed, telling us he was not feeling all that well and didn’t have the energy to get dressed. We told him he didn’t need to dress; it was a come-as-you-are party and his best bathrobe would be fine. And so, my father attended, making a grand entrance into the living room in his wheelchair, to applause and the beginning of a long night of toasts and merriment. A fire burned, the room [...]

The DO (C) That Changed My Life — by Amit Peled

Could one note be so significant in a musician’s life? At age fifteen, before entering a routine weekly music history class at the Telma-Yellin High School for the Arts in Tel Aviv, Israel, my answer would have been definitely NO. However, in that lesson we learned about the romantic period piano trio form, and our teacher decided to play a record of the slow movement of the Dvorak Trio in F minor op. 65. As a young cellist I must embarrassingly admit that I only knew the Dvorak cello concerto, the ultimate dream of every cellist to study and perform. Back to the classroom, we, the 'cool' boys sitting in the last row, were trying to pass on the time talking behind the teacher's back, hoping to catch an eye glimpse from one of the cool girls—the usual teenager stuff... [...]

Speaking and Singing: Bernie’s Use of Musical Rhetoric, and his Link with Casals — by Steve Doane

My introduction to Bernie’s wonderful sound and magical phrasing came from hearing a recording of the slow movement of the Fauré piano Trio by the original Beaux Arts Trio. I was simply transported, both by the music and the playing. It was towards the end of my undergraduate studies at Oberlin, and the thought came to me quite simply: “I must study with this man!” Bernie’s playing had that special ability to speak directly to the heart of the listener. It wasn’t just the ravishingly beautiful sound he made (although that had a considerable effect!!) but his way of shaping the line so completely—it was sung and sometimes “spoken” at the same time! As an admirer of Casals from a very young age, I think I must have recognized something familiar in that wonderfully lyrical yet clearly “enunciated” style [...]

The Greenhouse Effect — by Robert Jesselson

I feel like I have known Bernard Greenhouse for all of my life. Growing up in New York in the 1950's and 1960's, I heard him perform countless times with the Beaux Arts Trio and the Bach Aria Group. I can remember his warm sound and elegant appearance from my earliest days. It is probably because of hearing Mr. Greenhouse that I even wanted to play the cello. Then in 1971, when I was studying in Freiburg, Germany I got the first chance to actually meet him in person. It was backstage after an awe-inspiring performance of the Beethoven Triple by the Beaux Arts Trio. I told him that I hoped to have the opportunity to study with him someday—and he generously responded by giving me his personal telephone number and address, saying to contact him when I was ready. [...]

How Bernard Greenhouse Showed Me the Way: Lessons Learned — by Timothy Eddy

My apprenticeship to Mr. Greenhouse lasted about 9 years, from the time I was 15 until I graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a Masters Degree at 24.  There were so many ways that he opened my eyes, helping me see the ultimate possibilities of being a cellist and a performer. When I began working with him, I was already fascinated with “mapping out” the cello: learning patterns, left-hand shapes, and the effectiveness of well-targeted strategies of practicing….. but I was stiff and unable to play accurately when I tried to play quickly. Furthermore, Bernie pointed out, my sound was only a fraction of what I could really produce, while using far less effort. On top of that, I needed to make more specific, passionate statements with my [...]

Bach 6th Suite and the Outermost House — by Astrid Schween

My most important lessons with Bernard Greenhouse took place after my official university studies with him were over. By this time, I was a member of the Lark Quartet and my colleagues and I invited him to play the Schubert Cello Quintet with us on tour. With each concert, I marveled at Bernie’s ability to bring new life to the same music night after night, and I found myself delighting in each new detail. Bernie’s approach to the famous pizzicato dialogue with the first violin in the Adagio of the Schubert was a study in color and nuance. Each pizzicato appeared like some sort of character, first responding, then provoking, insinuating, and finally retiring, always beautifully in tune and resonant. I made a mental note to pay attention—this was artistry of a special sort. Bernie was the [...]

Reflections on the Legacy of Bernard Greenhouse — by Kate Dillingham

I first met Mr. Greenhouse in 1986 when I was a scholarship student at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Beaux Arts Trio gave a memorable concert at the school in their final year in the configuration of Messieurs Pressler, Cohen and Greenhouse. Little did I know that one year later, Mr. Greenhouse would retire from the Trio and become my teacher. Our lessons always began with some light-hearted humor to prepare me for understanding the depth of commitment to daily practice and study I needed to cultivate. Greenhouse emphasized striving for continuous growth as an artist. He insisted on developing acute listening skills, being thoroughly familiar with the score and having the courage to believe in my musical convictions. Greenhouse taught me that the quality of the sound [...]