Eleanore Schoenfeld, 81; renowned cellist had taught at USC Thornton School since '59

Times Staff Writer

Eleanore Schoenfeld, an internationally recognized cellist and teacher who had been on the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music since 1959, has died. She was 81.

Schoenfeld, who with her violinist sister, Alice, performed and recorded for several decades as the Schoenfeld Duo, died Monday of a heart attack at the La Canada Flintridge home she shared with her sister, the university announced Friday.

Ron Leonard, a Thornton School faculty member and former principal cellist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, told The Times on Friday that Schoenfeld "was the quintessential teacher, absolutely devoted to her students and to USC."

"She and her sister, Alice, were institutions within an institution. It is hard to imagine the USC Thornton School being without her," he added.

Midori, the world renowned violinist who also teaches at the Thornton School, said, "Schoenfeld and her sister built the international reputation of the Thornton School.

"I respected her for her honesty, integrity and years of experience and expertise, and I consulted with her several times on my own teaching," Midori added. "She found ample time for everyone. She did everything with such dedication and detail."

Schoenfeld was born in Slovenia to a Russian mother and a Polish father, who was a concertmaster. The family moved to Berlin when Schoenfeld was young and, at age 6, she began taking ballet classes with the Berlin State Opera. Her sister, Alice, was playing with the Berlin Philharmonic by age 10.

Eleanore Schoenfeld switched to cello at age 11 and studied with some of the leading teachers in Berlin. She earned her artist's diploma at the Hochschule fur Musik.

The family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, and the sisters began an association with the Idyllwild Arts Academy, which led to positions on the USC music faculty.

Eleanore Schoenfeld served as chairwoman of the strings department at the USC Thornton School of Music and, since 1979, has been director of the Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists in Los Angeles.

Schoenfeld's influence was felt keenly throughout the Thornton School.

"Her influence isn't only in the course book, you feel it in every corner of the department," Midori told The Times.

She is survived by her sister, who continues to teach at USC.

A memorial service will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena. Interment will follow at the Mountain View Cemetery Mortuary, 2400 Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena.


For The Record Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 09, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction Schoenfeld obituary: The obituary of cellist Eleonore Schoenfeld in Saturday's California section misspelled her first name as Eleanore.
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