Albin Berkey Senior — Cellist
Berkey was born in Czechoslovakia (13 May 1913 Nadlice pri Topoľčanoch – 27 June 2003 Toronto). He graduated with Honours from the Conservatory and the University of Musical Art of Prague; he also participated in Master classes with P. Casals in Paris.
Berkey's distinguished career is highlighted by guest appearances as soloist around the world with major orchestras, with many prominent conductors such as V. Talich, R. Kubelik, G. Szell, W. Susskind, C. Zecchi, L von Matatic, G. Sebastian, Takashi Asahina, Abendroth, Kleibert, Kon-Witschny, Janson etc., on radio, television and recordings with Supraphon in many countries: Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Russia, United States, Canada, Ireland, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Rumania etc.
In 1953 Maestro Berkey was honored by the Minister of Culture by being nominated STATE SOLOIST OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA.
In 1954 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Antonin Dvorak, Berkey as the most authentic living interpretor of the Dvorak Cello Concerto was invited to perform in Russia, where he made sensational appearances with the famous Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in Leningrad, Moscow in Tchaikowsky Concert Hall, Kiev, Rostow, in Moscow television and radio.
At that time he was invited to Moscow Conservatory by D. Oistrach to confer with him about teaching methods.
For many years Berkey performed as a soloist and chamber player at the renowned Prague International Spring Festival.
In 1955 Maestro Berkey was appointed by the Minister of Culture as an ADJUDICATOR for the International Cello Competition at the Prague Spring Festival.
From 1961-1963 Berkey was principal cellist with the BERLIN RADIO Symphony Orchestra, as well with the R.S.O. in Prague, Bratislava, Brno, Ostrava, RTE Dublin, Ireland, with the old Sach-Czech Philharmonie and Slovak Philharmonic Orchestras and with the Malmo S.O. in Sweden.
Besides his solo career Maestro Berkey was active in String Quartet and State Piano Trio, with the best Czecho-slovakian soloists. In 1969-70 Berkey was a member of the Princeton String Quartet from New York, which was made up of excellent musicians in Canada at the Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
From 1946 Professor Berkey has conveyed his artistic ability to students, first at the Conservatory and the University of Musical Art in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, Ireland, Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, the Harbord College Institute of Toronto and with the North York Board of Education in Toronto.
After years of absence from Czechoslovakia in 1975, Berkey resumed the position as STATE SOLOIST OF CZECHO-SLOVAKIA.
Maestro Berkey has been acclaimed by critics and audiences as one of the greatest cellists of our time. Berkey's repertoire is unusually wide in all styles.
What the Critics Say
... he is a brilliant technician, easily mastering the most difficult passages, BUT FIRST OF ALL BERKEY PLAYED THE TRUE DVORAK...
Berkey's almost UNBELIEVABLE TECHNIQUE, the fantastic sureness of his left hand and the violinistically lyrical control of his bow...
FRANKFURT, Frankfurter Zeitung
A GENUINE VIRTUOSO OF VIOLONCELLO ... A REAL MAGICIAN MASTER OF HIS INSTRUMENT... with the Concerto in a minor Berkey remained no debt to Schumann.
Albin Berkey, the SLOVAKIAN PABLO CASALS.
BERLIN, Neues Deutschland
Berkey played Dvorak's Concerto with musicality full of temperament ... It was real music-making, ONLY RARELY EXPERIENCED.
BERLIN, Neues Deutschland
... Berkey's playing is composed, performed on a high intellectual level, aiming at technical perfection and beauty of tone.
BUDAPEST, Magyar Nemzet
VENI, VIDI, VICI. A highly cultured artist, of a beautiful tone presented the sextoles in Dvorak's Concerto in a manner of highest excellence, NEVER HEARD IN BUDAPEST BEFORE.
BUFFALO, N.Y., Evening News
Clearly Albin Berkey is ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP RANKING CELLISTS.
BRUSSELS, Die Thyrse
I was fascinated by the DISTINGUISHED MUSICALITY of this artist, but also by his virtuosity.
PARIS, Le Figaro
A. Berkey a soloist of UNUSUAL QUALITY ... HE IS A HIGHLY CULTURED ARTIST...
Berkey has confirmed, that he ranks among the STRONGEST PERSONALITIES OF THIS INSTRUMENT...
TORONTO, Globe and Mail
Berkey is a FORMIDABLE MASTER OF CELLO ... he had a long and distinguished career as a soloist.
DUBLIN, Irish Times
There is every reason to declare Berkey to be a highly excelling interpretor of Dvorak's music.
BUCHAREST, loan R. Nicola, composer
... the eminent cellist and great artist of the Slovakian nation — in memory of his concert in Bucharest, with all my admiration.