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Cellist Bernard Greenhouse Dies

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Some listeners may also remember Greenhouse from a 2008 portrait on this program. Radio Diaries' producer Joe Richman brought us that story, and he has this remembrance.

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

JOE RICHMAN: Greenhouse had a small mustache and a big sense of humor. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he told me he didn't teach students to play the cello. He taught them how to make music.

RICHMAN: It's a special talent, which draws the listener close to the performer, this bond, great bond between performer and listener. If you feel it on your skin, you know that they're going to feel it the same way. I can't tell you why...

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

RICHMAN: That is different from...

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

RICHMAN: From that. But you hear a difference, don't you? Listen again. The opening, it can be played...

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

RICHMAN: That's one way of playing it, but here...

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

RICHMAN: Over the past few years, Bernard Greenhouse continued to teach and even occasionally perform. His eyesight was failing, so he couldn't read music. He had to rely on his memory. But Greenhouse never considered retiring.

RICHMAN: I don't play "The Flight of the Bumblebee." I don't look for progress. I look for containing from year to year. That's why I practice every day. I fight against the closure of my ability. And I'm not going to let it happen.

RICHMAN: Three weeks ago, at the age of 95, Greenhouse stopped playing his cello. After a lifetime of practicing every day, he just could no longer physically make a sound on the instrument.

SIEGEL: The Countess of Stanlein, a 300 year-old Stradivarius cello. That cello, he said, was his voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

RICHMAN: For NPR, I'm Joe Richman.

(SOUNDBITE OF CELLO MUSIC)

SIEGEL: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joe Richman