Timothy Landauer, thirty-two year old principal cellist of the Pacific Symphony, is a cellist with a colorful past. Landauer's grandfather was a German scientist who fled the Nazis because he was Jewish. He went to China before the beginning of World War II, and then was unable to leave China. After the war, the United Nations recruited him as a public-health official. When the Communists took power in 1949, Landauer's grandfather fled to Taiwan with the Nationalist government. Later still he went to the United States, from which he sought to be reunited with his family, which was a very difficult process.
Living in China was difficult for Landauer and his father, because of their relative living on the island of Taiwan. The Communist authorities automatically gave you a bad report, if this was the case. Timothy remembers well, when he was only three years old, the Red Guards broke into his house, to arrest his father and mother, because they were too Western. Timothy's mother, a pianist, was sent to the country to do hard labor in the fields. Timothy's father was associate principal cellist in the Shangai Symphony, and gave Timothy his first cello lessons. When Timothy's father tried to leave China, he first had to quit the Shanghai Symphony. He was told that if he resigned, he would get his passport and be allowed to go. But he had been lied to. He lost his job and didn't get his passport either. The Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, when Mao Zedong died. The conservatories were reopened then, and things got better. The family was able to emigrate, but only after another long ordeal.
Timothy Landauer was able to speed up the process by applying to the Gregor Piatigorsky competition in 1983 at USC. He said in an interview, "If I had had to wait for the quota, it would have taken another three years. I got ahead because I applied for the competition. I was fortunate enough to win first place . . .Los Angeles was a surprise. I had no idea of the vastness of the city. The first thing I loved about Los Angeles was the space, the freedom. I felt that. It took a while to get used to it."
He studied with Eleanore Schoenfeld at USC, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees and also served for three years as an assistant to Lynn Harrell.
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CopyrightęMarshall C. St. John, 1996