Kneisel Hall Chamber Music
Adult Chamber Music Institute
Director, George Sopkin, cello
George Sopkin was a pupil of Emmanuel Feuermann in Europe and New
York. Although he began his career as one of the youngest members of
the Chicago Symphony he has devoted most of his life to Chamber
Music. He left the symphony to join the Pro Arte Quartet and after
World War II became a founding member of the Fine Arts Quartet.
Later the Quartet became Artists-in-Residence at the Cleveland
Institute of Music and Northwestern University.
In 1964 they were appointed Professors of Music at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee where they combined a heavy teaching schedule
with extensive tours: annually in Europe, State Department tours of
the Far East, numerous festivals (Tanglewood, Edinburgh, Ravinia)
and, of course just about everywhere in the United States. In 1967
their Far Eastern tour included three weeks in Japan where they gave
concerts and master classes in many cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo
They have recorded for Vox, Everest, Concertapes, Decca and Columbia
most of the major works for string quartet including the complete
Beethoven and Bartok String Quartets, the Mozart King of Prussia
Quartets, all the Mozart String Quintets, more than forty Hydn
Quartets and works by many of their contemporaries including
commissions from Milton Babbitt, Seymour Shifrin and Karel Husa,
whose work won the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Sopkin has recorded solo
repertoire by Ernst Bloch and John Downey, and solo works written
for him by Werner Torkanowsky.
In 1979 Mr. Sopkin resigned from the Fine Arts Quartet and the
University (where he holds the title of distinguished Professor
Emeritus) in order to move to Maine and explore another chamber
music repertoire. The New England Piano Quartette is the fulfillment
of this desire.
In January 1985 Mr. Sopkin was appointed Visiting Artist at
Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh to teach cello and chamber
music and to perform with the Carnegie-Mellon Trio. 1984 to 1992
also saw a series of master classes at Albuquerque, New Mexico, the
Interlochen School of the Arts, Carnegie-Mellon University, England
(Pro Corda), Italy, Corfu, and the Banff Festival of the Artes, and
Portland, Maine, as well as recitals and four performances of the
Hindemith Cello Concerto.
In 1997 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1998 he received the Chevalier Du
Violincelle award from the University of Indiana. He currently is
Director of Admissions as well as the Director of the Adult Chamber
Music Institute at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue
Hill, Maine. He now makes his home in Surry, Maine.