Obituary: Michael Grebanier, San Francisco Symphony’s principal cello, 82

Posted on: January 2, 2020

“Michael Grebanier, the San Francisco Symphony’s principal cellist for the past 43 years, died on Dec. 19,” writes Janos Gereben in Monday’s (12/30) San Francisco Classical Voice. “The Brisbane resident was 82 and still on the orchestra’s active roster, although he had not played for some time, being in ill health. His widow, Sharon, has been a violinist with the orchestra since 1973; she was also first violinist with the Aurora Quartet…. Grebanier … joined the SF Symphony as principal cellist in 1977. He studied with Leonard Rose at the Curtis Institute, and at age 19 he won the Walter Naumburg Competition and made his solo debut in his native New York City. He was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra for four years, and at 25 became principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the youngest first cello in that orchestra’s history, serving there for 14 years. With pianist Garrick Ohlsson and former SF Symphony Associate Concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis, Grebanier formed the FOG Trio, and he had been affiliated with the Marlboro and Casals festivals. He … recorded the Prokofiev cello sonatas and the complete music for cello and piano by Rachmaninoff (Naxos). His instrument was a 1698 cello by Francesco Ruggeri of Cremona.”