Joseph Kalichstein 1946-2022

It is with tremendous sadness that Opus 3 Artists mourns the passing of pianist Joseph Kalichstein after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Yossi, as he was known to many of us, was an enthralling performer as well as a wonderful, caring teacher. As a founding member of the famed Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio he was a steadfast partner for over 4 decades to violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson. His musicianship and great humanity will be sadly missed and we send our condolences to his family, friends and students.

Acclaimed for the heartfelt intensity and technical mastery of his playing, Joseph Kalichstein won equal praise as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. He was born in Tel Aviv and came to the United States in 1962 where he receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School and won a series of prizes. He served as the Chamber Music Advisor to the Kennedy Center and was the Artistic Director of the Center’s Fortas Chamber Music Concerts. He held the inaugural Chamber Music Chair at the Juilliard School, where he also taught a limited number of advanced piano students.

From the Washington Post:
Joseph Kalichstein, an Israeli-American pianist who was equally distinguished as a recitalist, a soloist with orchestra and a chamber musician, died March 31 at his home in Maplewood, N.J. He was 76.

The Juilliard School, where Mr. Kalichstein taught for many years, announced his death. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Over a career that spanned half a century, Mr. Kalichstein presented thoughtful, impassioned and deeply musical performances of the piano repertoire from Bach, Mozart and Brahms through the masters of the early 20th century, including Bartok, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

With his chamber ensemble, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, he went further still and played contemporary works by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Richard Danielpour and Daron Hagen, among others. Several of these pieces were written for the group. Since 1997, Mr. Kalichstein had been artistic adviser for chamber music to the Kennedy Center and artistic director of the center’s Fortas Chamber Music Concerts.

During his long history with the Kennedy Center, Mr. Kalichstein appeared with his trio, gave solo recitals and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as in many other concerts. He had also been a teacher at the Juilliard School since 1983.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who knew Mr. Kalichstein from their student days, called him “a musician’s musician, always thoughtful and imaginative.”

“All of us who were at Juilliard with him knew that he would become an important force in the music world,” he continued. “When you coupled those skills with his incredible humanity and sense of humor, the very definition of the word ‘mensch’ leaps to the mind.”

Mr. Kalichstein believed that there were many similarities between playing concertos with orchestras and chamber music with small ensembles. “The only difference is that in playing with the trio, we know each other well. We can discuss and grow on past experiences.”

He considered solo recitals a different matter: “There, I must be the gladiator with the beast.”

Survivors include his wife, the former Rowain Schultz; two sons, Avi Kalichstein and Rafi Kalichstein; and three grandchildren.

Mr. Kalichstein gave his final performance in Phoenix on March 17, when the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio played music by Schumann, Zwilich and Brahms.

From The Violin Channel:
Many prominent voices in the industry expressed their grief over the news.

“We are devastated by the passing of our beloved colleague, Joseph Kalichstein,” write Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo. “Every concert over the past 45 years together has been a special musical experience for each of us. We learned so much from this musical giant. We were blessed to play and record so much of the trio repertoire, and to commission many great new works for piano trio. Right now it feels like LIFE will never be the same for us.”

“My dear friend and colleague Joseph Kalichstein passed away today,” conductor Leonard Slatkin said. “Ever since our days as students at Juilliard, we remained close. His brilliance as a musician was only surpassed by his genuine humanity and compassion for others. If ever the word ‘mensch’ applied to anyone, it was Yossi. This is a tremendous loss for all of us.”

“The world lost a great musician and I lost a dear friend,” violinist Cho-Liang Lin said. “I will miss him very much. RIP, Yossi.”

“Our thoughts are with Yossi’s wife, Rowain, and his family as well as his students and his many other colleagues and friends,” the Juilliard School released in a statement. “He won equal praise as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, and he will be remembered for his exemplary teaching, collaborative spirit, quick wit, and unfailing positivity.”