Obituary: cellist and educator Paul Olefsky, 87

Posted on: June 10, 2013

In Friday’s (6/7) New York Times, Margalit Fox reports, “Paul Olefsky, a cellist celebrated for his rich tone, impeccable musicianship, and commitment to the work of contemporary composers, died on Saturday in Austin, Tex. He was 87. His death was announced by the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where Mr. Olefsky, an emeritus professor, had taught since 1974.” Following graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teachers included Gregor Piatigorsky, Olefsky enjoyed an international career as a soloist during the 1940s while also serving as principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. “In 1950, Mr. Olefsky was the soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra under [Music Director Eugene] Ormandy in the world premiere of Virgil Thomson’s Cello Concerto. Over the years he also introduced works by Darius Milhaud, Bertram Shapleigh, George Kleinsinger and Alexander Tcherepnin. Later in 1950, Mr. Olesky, who during World War II had performed as a civilian for American troops in the South Pacific, forsook the principal’s chair in Philadelphia to enlist in the Navy, where he continued playing … After being discharged from the Navy, Mr. Olefsky was the principal cellist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.” Olefsky “was married and divorced several times. Survivors include his wife, Hai Zheng Olefsky, a cellist; and their daughter, Maxine Olefsky.”

Posted June 10, 2013