Gregor Piatigorsky, one of the great cellists of our time, was as generous with money as he was brilliant in performance. He died at the age of 73, in 1976. The Russian-born virtuoso performed worldwide before settling in Los Angeles for the last 16 years of his life, teaching at USC beginning in 1962 until his death. When he died he made provision for numerous awards, scholarships and honors all over the country.
The New England Conservatory awards a prize from funds that had been set up more than a decade ago by the late cellist's widow, Jacqueline Piatigorsky, and her family. It is called the "New England Conservatory/Piatigorsky Artist Award." The award carries a cash prize of $10,000.00, as well as a list of concert engagements. In 1993 the award went to Stephen Isserlis, who had studied with Piatigorsky in Los Angeles.
The award is unusual in that it is given as the result of non-public deliberations by a panel of musicians. There is no contest involved. Its purpose is to identify and sustain young cellists who exemplify the ideal of artistry that Gregor Piatigorsky represented. It will be given, Jacqueline Piatigorsky says, not every year, but perhaps every other year.