David Shallon Sign


Steven Isserlis Portrait
© Joanna Bergin

Steven Isserlis

Steven Isserlis is a British cellist whose activities include not only worldwide concerto and recital performances, but chamber music (including many performances over many years with Tabea Zimmermann); he is also the author of two childrens’ books  about composers, three musical fairy stories, a book of advice for young musicians (co-written with Robert Schumann!),  and radio documentaries and portraits in words and music about figures ranging from Schumann to Marcel Proust and Harpo Marx.

He first performed with David Shallon in the early 1980s, and continued to play with him regularly, including performances in Jerusalem and Dusseldorf, a filmed recording of the Dvorak concerto for Hessische Rundfunk TV,  and a tour of the UK playing Strauss’ Don Quixote with Tabea, David and the Luxembourg Philharmonic.

Steven Isserlis

Dudu Shallon

When I think of Dudu, I think first of his immensely kind eyes – and the warmth, the humanity behind them. If I’m honest, I also remember his frequently exasperated expression. He took his work and everything surrounding it extremely seriously, and that didn’t make his life easy. He was a wonderful conductor and musician – but was (it seemed to me, anyway) never really sure of himself. He achieved remarkable results with his orchestras – but always worried about them. If somebody paid him a compliment, his face would brighten, his eyes widen with pleasure; he needed reassurance. I don’t know why those are among the first thoughts I have when I think back to him – but they are.

But that kindness: I remember that when my son Gabriel was about four (?) years old, we took him to Jerusalem, where I was playing with Dudu. One day, Dudu was having a business meeting, which I know was quite important to him; Gabriel had taken a shine to Dudu – obviously sensing his warm and affectionate nature – and, despite our protests, kept insisting on going up to talk to him. We should have taken him away sooner (we did eventually); but until we did so, Dudu was quite incapable of ignoring Gabriel, of hurting his feelings, even though his meeting was being disrupted. Not surprisingly, he was later an adoring father himself, to the amazing Yuval; how he would have adored Jonathan as well!

He brought his sincerity, as well as thoroughness, to his music-making, his performances always deeply thought as well as felt. He was never a dictator – it wasn’t in his nature. The members of his orchestras were obviously very fond of him – not always the case with orchestras and their principal conductors! Of course, it was a huge, horrible shock to all of us when he died so suddenly –  and to his orchestras, I’m sure, as much as to anybody outside his family. (It’s interesting to read Carlos Kleiber, in the book of his letters, sending condolences for Dudu’s death to the timpanist of his Luxembourg orchestra.)

I still think of him often, as I’m sure all of his friends do. He’d be so proud of the boys, and of the way Tabea has brought them up. I’m so glad that he’s being remembered with this website – it won’t make us miss him any less, but it’ll be a way of reconnecting to him. Thank you for everything, Dudu. And I hope that there’s lots of delicious food for you in heaven!

Steven Isserlis