Special Collections and University Archives

Lynn Harrell, Cellist

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce the donation of the collection of award-winning cellist,  Lynn Harrell. Mr. Harrell began his studies during his childhood in Texas, under the tutelage of Lev Aronson. Later, Mr. Harrell trained at Juilliard with Leonard Rose and at the Curtis Institute with Orlando Cole. At the age of 20, Mr. Harrell became the principal cellist of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra under George Szell, were he remained before pursuing his career as a soloist until 1971.    

A major recording artist, Mr. Harrell performed for over two dozen recordings, and he won two Grammy Awards: one in 1981 for his recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50, with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, and the other in 1987 for an album of Beethoven’s piano trios, also with Perlman and Ashkenazy. In 1994, Mr. Harrell performed Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei at the Vatican in a concert dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust — the Vatican’s first-ever official commemoration of the genocide, and a performance that was broadcast around the world.

Among the institutions where Mr. Harrell taught are the London’s Royal Academy of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Juilliard, the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He also served as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, a summer training program.

Lynn Harrell and his wife, violinist Helen Nightengale, founded the nonprofit the HEARTbeats Foundation, which was dedicated “to help children in need harness the power of music to better cope with, and recover from, the extreme challenges of poverty and conflict.” After Mr. Harrell’s death in 2020, this organization became the Lynn Harrell Foundation in honor of his legacy. 

The Lynn Harrell Musical Score and Personal Papers Collection, generously donated by his wife Helen Nightengale, includes personal papers, writings, photographs, sheet music, and recordings among its many treasures. Included within the donation is the collection of Mr. Harrell’s father, Mack Harrell, a famous operatic baritone who performed with the Metropolitan Opera and the Bach Aria Group. 

The Cello Music Collection at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is dedicated to acquiring, preserving, and making accessible cello music collections for research and learning. The archive contains sheet music (manuscript and published), monographs, audio-video recordings, personal papers, and artifacts associated with cellists noted for their distinguished contributions in the areas of composition, performance, pedagogy, and research. To facilitate your visit or if you have any questions, please contact the curator of the collection, Stacey Krim, at or 336.334.5498.

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