Robert Cohen made his concerto debut at the age of twelve at the Royal Festival Hall, London. During thirty-five years of his distinguished international career, Cohen has been hailed as one of the foremost cellists of our time. “It is easy to hear what the fuss is about, he plays like a God” (New York Stereo Review), “A virtuoso of genius” (Nurnberg Nachrichten), “Robert Cohen is a divinely gifted cellist. Cohen is one of the few musicians, whose every tone speaks to people” (Keskisuomalainen, Finland).
Invited to perform concertos world-wide by conductors Claudio Abbado, Antal Dorati, Sir Mark Elder, Mariss Jansons, Sir Charles Mackerras, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Muti, Sir Roger Norrington, Tadaaki Otaka, Sir Simon Rattle, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Osmo Vanska. Notable collaborations in chamber music including Yehudi Menuhin, the Amadeus String Quartet (including their CD of Schubert Quintet on DGG), Menahem Pressler, Leonidas Kavakos, Massimo Quarta and Krystian Zimerman and with his regular duo partner pianist Heini Karkkainen.
His musical education was also exceptional; early studies with William Pleeth, followed by Jacqueline du Pré, André Navarra and Mistislav Rostropovich. Robert Cohen won the Suggia Prize, Young Concert Artists (New York), Piatigorsky and Unesco International competitions and the English Speaking Union Scholarship to Tanglewood (USA).
Cohen is an inspirational conductor and teacher and has given masterclasses at Conservatoires throughout the world. His passionate views on the art of learning, performing and communicating music have been widely published. From 2000-2012 Cohen was Professor of Advanced Solo Studies at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, and in 2010 became Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London. The Royal Academy of Music Cohen Lectures were launched in 2014. Cohen’s High Performance Soloist Course at the Accademia Perosi, Italy starts in 2016.
Robert Cohen made his recording debut at age 19 with the Elgar Cello Concerto and London Philharmonic (EMI) which earned a silver disc. He has recorded extensively for BIS, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony and Decca. The most recent composition written and dedicated to Cohen was Sally Beamish Cello Concerto No.2 ‘The Song Gatherer’. The US premiere was with co-commissioner Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä. The English premiere by co-commissioner Hallé Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder. The Scottish premiere was with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins.
Cohen has been the subject of many TV documentaries and has created special projects: ‘Les Six’ – poetry, literature and film for City of London Festival, ‘Collaborations’ for the Royal Ballet School, ‘Robert Cohen’s Cello Clinic’ www.celloclinic.com and ‘Cohen Pod Talks’ iTunes.com. From 1989-2011 he was Artistic Director of Charleston Manor Festival, a chamber music Festival set in the heart of the Sussex countryside in southern England.
At the invitation of film producer Don Boyd, Cohen became the curator of a classical music channel for HiBrow.TV. In the USA, National Public Radio has created a monthly series for Cohen entitled ‘On That Note’, wuwm.com.
In January 2012, Cohen became Cellist of the legendary Fine Arts Quartet.
His cello is the ‘Ex Roser’ David Tecchler, Rome 1723.
The essence of Cohen as communicator is summed up by ‘The Guardian’ who observed “Cohen can hold the audience in the palm of his hand”.