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Remembering Antonio Lysy

Antonio Lysy

The Heifetz Institute joins the worldwide music community in mourning the loss of the cellist and pedagogue Antonio Lysy, who passed away after a brief and sudden illness. “Tonino,” as he was known to his friends and colleagues, aimed to showcase the versatility of the cello’s voice, from Baroque to electric, performing in projects which illustrated his diverse interests in music. Antonio Lysy was a longtime, beloved member of the Heifetz faculty, as evidenced by the memories shared by our Institute’s artistic leaders below. 

Please add YOUR rememberances of “Tonino” in the comments below.

Nicholas Kitchen (Heifetz Institute Artistic Director, Borromeo String Quartet):
The Heifetz Institute has lost one of its shining lights. Devastating illness took the life of Antonio Lysy in Italy just a few days ago.  For many, many years, Antonio brought to the Heifetz Institute a glowing combination of great playing, generous teaching and personal grace. Countless students have shared during the last few days how much his guidance meant to them at the Institute. Whether it was for the students he worked with, or in collaboration with his colleagues on the Faculty, Antonio really brought the richest experience and expertise to all he did and participated in all experiences with a mind that could easily share his own ideas but also embrace and smile upon the ideas that others could add to his. He did this with a luminous grace that is like very few people I have ever met.

I had the privilege of making music with Antonio in his Italian home of La Foce and doing so brought me into contact with the heritage Antonio carried forward. He was so open and engaged in the present, but his life was steeped in old and rich histories – his family writing books that showed how La Foce wound its way through tumultuous history, his music growing naturally from the playing of his virtuoso violinist father Alberto Lysy and the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, with whom he and his family created so many worthy enterprises. It was all these layers that nourished what Antonio shared with all of us. He effortlessly and gracefully brought these many layers into his teaching and playing, and also into his appreciation of the present moment and what everyone participating could contribute to it.

I feel so fortunate to have known such a person, and to know his wife Margaret and his mother and all his family. Fate has taken away from us a person we looked forward to sharing so much more with.  Antonio was scheduled to return to teach at the Heifetz Institute for two weeks in Summer 2024. We know how much he would have contributed to this summer and to many summers in the future. We can not look forward to those, and this loss is a great sadness. But the history that precedes the present is so wonderful and rich and beautiful that though we may tremendous grief at the loss, what is reassuring is that we can feel great happiness at all that Antonio gave to the Institute and to so many ventures that he led, whether in Italy or California or many other places. He brought out the best in all that was and all who were around him. Thank you, Antonio.

Antonio Lysy
Antonio Lysy

Daniel Heifetz (Founder, Heifetz International Music Institute):
I was devastated at the news of the untimely death of my great colleague and friend, cellist Antonio Lysy. Antonio spent many years as a beloved faculty member of the Heifetz International Music Institute, performing, teaching, and inspiring hundreds of brilliant young cellists from throughout the world. It was my privilege and honor to have collaborated with him.

Antonio Lysy was the rare artist and human being who embodied a dignified elegance and warmth, along with an inner strength of character and generosity of spirit. His unique energy and presence graced the Institute. He was a loving, dedicated, and supportive friend who will be so deeply missed. For the music world, one of the most beautiful voices has gone silent.

Ralph Kirshbaum (Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Cello, USC Thornton School of Music; co-founder, Heifetz Chamber Music Seminar)

Antonio Lysy was an exceptional human being—gentle, kind, thoughtful, supremely talented and dedicated, generous of spirit, and full of fun. He was an excellent cellist, musician, and teacher—the best and most loyal friend one could hope to have and a most sensitive and loving husband, father, and grandfather. Tonino was a beloved member of our extended family for almost forty years, and his premature passing is a tragic and devastating loss on a very personal level. He was struck down in the prime of his life, just as he, together with his wife Margaret, was embarking on a major new chapter of his life marked by a return to live in his beloved native country of Italy. Now he will be laid to rest in Italy, and we will be left with the fondest of memories of a special man who touched our lives in so many profound ways. May Tonino rest in peace, and may his life and his example continue to be an inspiration to us all.

Antonio Lysy
Antonio Lysy

Longtime Heifetz Institute faculty member Antonio Lysy was born in 1963 and was the son of violinist Alberto Lysy and Benedetta Origo. Alberto Lysy was born in Argentina to Ukrainian immigrants and went on to become the first South American artist to win a prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and subsequently studied with and assisted Yehudi Menuhin.He later embarked on an international performing career that saw him appear with Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras of London, Camerata Academica of Salzburg, Zurich Tonhalle, the Zagreb Soloists, Orchestra di Padova e il Veneto, Israel Sinfonietta, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Les Violions du Roi, and the Camerata Strumentale di Prato.

Lysy was the co-producer and director of the show Te Amo, Argentina, a personal journey through the heart and soul of Argentina’s culture, featuring solo cello and chamber works, dance, film, and spoken word. The show was based on Lysy’s album Antonio Lysy at the Broad – Music From Argentina, which won a Latin Grammy Award. Lysy recorded extensively for CBC Radio, BBC Radio, Classic FM, and other European radio networks. He partnered with Yarlung Records in a record called South America, honouring Astor Piazzolla, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Gardel, his father Alberto Lysy, and Argentine bandoneon master Coco Trivisonno.

As an educator, Lysy was a professor at McGill University in Montréal for 15 years, as well as a visiting professor at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland for many years. He became professor of cello at the Herb Alpert School of Music, University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. He founded the Incontri in Terra di Siena Chamber Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy, which was held annually since its inception in 1989. Lysy was also the co-founder of the NUME Academy and Festival in Cortona, Italy, which offers tuition free masterclass for violin, viola and cello students, chamber music sessions and concerts by guest international artists.  In addition to the Heifetz Institute, Antonio Lysy also taught at the Toronto Summer Music Festival in Canada.


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