Mikhail Shenderov (Michailas Šenderovas) (1917 05 18 Gomel, Belarus – 1984 01 02 Vilnius) – one of the greatest Lithuanian cellists and pedagogues, the first performer of works for cello by many Lithuanian composers, a member of the Lithuanian String Quartet, the principal violin of the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, dubbed the Lithuanian cello patriarch.
He was born on May 18, 1917 in Gomel, Belarus to a family of musicians. His father Jakov Shenderov was a double bassist (a member of the Vilnius Radiophone Orchestra in post-war Vilnius), his grandfather – a flutist.
In 1934, M. Shenderov won the first prize in the Soviet Union Young Performers Competition in Leningrad (presently Sankt Petersburg) and the same year was accepted to the Leningrad Conservatory without entrance exams. He studied with prof. A. Shtrimer (teacher of Daniil Shafran). In 1939, M. Shenderov returned to Belarus and in 1940–1941 continued his education under prof. Alexander Vlasov at the Conservatory in Minsk.
At the outbreak of WWII he escaped to Sverdlovsk (presently Yekaterinburg), where he became the principal cello and conductor in the Theatre of the Young Viewer Orchestra. In 1943, M. Shenderov collaborated with the celebrated pianist Heinrich Neuhaus performing Rachmaninov’s Sonata for cello and piano.
In 1946, he settled in Vilnius, served as the principal cello of the Radiophone Symphony Orchestra. In 1952, he graduated from the Lithuanian State Conservatoire (presently the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), where he studied with prof. Povilas Berkavičius. M. Shenderov taught at the Vilnius Ten-Year Music School (presently the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art). The list of his disciples includes the world-famous cellist David Geringas (M. Shenderov was his first teacher and guided him for six years), as well as renowned Lithuanian cellists Augustinas Vasiliauskas, Albertas Šivickis, Saulius Lipčius, etc. In addition in 1961, he joined the faculty of the Lithuanian State Conservatoire where in 1974 he became an associate professor of the Chamber Music Department.
The years spent working at the Lithuanian String Quartet (1952–1961) was the highlight of M. Shenderov’s creative career. In 1959, the Lithuanian String Quartet won the second prize in the International Joseph Haydn Competition in Budapest (Hungary) M. Shenderov becoming one of the first post-war laureates; he was also granted the title of the Honourable Distinguished Artist.
Impelled to give up playing in the Quartet due to the illness, he is invited to be the principal cello in the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (1961), and the principal cello in the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (1965).
For a long time he was the only concert cellist in Lithuania, the first performer and promoter of works by Lithuanian composers. He appeared as a soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras, in a duo with his wife pianist Ila Shenderova, in piano trios with Stasys Vainiūnas, Dainius Trinkūnas, Aleksandras Livontas, Olga Šteinbergaitė, Viktoras Radovičius and Marieta Azizbekova. He was one of the first to inaugurate and promote the piano trio genre in Lithuania.
M. Shenderov gave concerts in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Canada, Great Britain, Finland, Greece, Italy and France. He performed and edited works for cello by almost every Lithuanian composer of the time – Juozas Karosas, Konradas Kaveckas, Eduardas Balsys, Julius Juzeliūnas, Vytautas Laurušas, Vaclovas Paketūras, Benjaminas Gorbulskis, etc; collaborated with composers V. Laurušas, V. Barkauskas and B. Dvarionas.
M. Shenderov participated in LP recordings; the LRT archive houses his recordings of over 100 works by Lithuanian, Russian and Western composers. “M. Shenderov’s very vibrant cello voice was even more enhanced by his temperament and artistry” remembers D. Katkus.
M. Shenderov died on January 2, 1984 in Vilnius. Buried in Antakalnis Cemetery.
Written in collaboration with his son composer A. Šenderovas.
Sonata for cello and piano
Adagio from ballet „On the Seashore“
Preliude in E flat major
Miniatures for cello and piano
Sonata for cello and percussion
Trio No. 1
Concerto for cello and string orchestra, op. 2
Four Pieces for cello and piano
Quartet No. 1
Concert fantasia for cello and orchestra
Suite from ballet „On the Seashore“
Quartet No. 6 for two violins, viola and cello
Quartet in D major, op. 20, No. 4
Quartet in G major, op. 74, No. 3
Sonata for cello and piano
“His utmost insistence to high standards and intolerance to routine was his guide in search of the new and progressive. He was never striving for cheap effects. As a performer he was a man of principle. (…) He was an outstanding partner in ensemble playing, sensitive musician, a tremendous cellist and superlative quartetist.”