Laurence Lesser Photo PortraitLaurence Lesser was a top prize winner in the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and a guest performer in the historic Heifetz-Piatigorsky concerts and recordings of the Tchaikovsky Sextet and Spohr Octet for RCA-Victor. In 1976 he gave the premiere of Menotti’s Fantasia (written for him under a Ford Foundation grant) with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa; in 1991, he performed the New England premiere with the NEC Symphony conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich. He has been a soloist with the BSO, the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New Japan Orchestra and other major orchestras. In 1966,
Lesser was the first to perform the Schoenberg Cello Concerto with orchestra since its 1938 debut by Emanuel Feuermann.  Subsequently, in 1968, Lesser became the first to record this work.

Lesser has appeared at the Casals, Spoleto, Marlboro, Charleston, and Santa Fe festivals as well as London’s South Bank Summer Music Festival.  He has also been actively involved with the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.  In 2005, Lesser was named a "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University, awarded for distinguished achievements and contributions to the world of cello playing and teaching.

Laurence Lesser served as Artistic Director from 1982-1983 and President of New England Conservatory from 1983 through 1996. During that time he presided over the restoration of NEC's Jordan Hall and successfully completed a capital campaign of $30 million. He added distinguished musicians to the faculty in all areas of study, and initiated the "First Monday at Jordan Hall" concert series, which he continues to direct.  
Laurence Lesser occupies a teaching chair endowed by the estate of Walter W. Naumburg. He plays a 1622 cello made by Antonio and Hieroymous Amati in Cremona, Italy.
A.B.,(mathematics) cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard College. Studies with Gregor Piatigorsky at the University of Southern California. Fulbright Scholar with Gaspar Cassadó in Köln, Germany. Recordings on Columbia, RCA, Melodiya, Desto. Former faculty of Peabody Institute, University of Southern California.

Physical description

This collection consists of eleven record cartons, approximately 11 lin. ft.  The entire collection is made up of paper files, with the exception of one folder of photographs.


This collection includes the materials created by, and belonging to Laurence Lesser from the years 1982-1996. The materials have been in storage since Lesser’s tenure, and were transferred to the Archives for processing in 2004.


Access to the Lesser collection is granted by the Archivist/Records Manager or Director of Libraries. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. Due to the recent nature of this collection, certain portions will have access restrictions, as determined by the Director of Libraries and the Office of the President.


All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as: Laurence Lesser Collection in the Archives at New England Conservatory of Music, Boston..