Clive Greensmith

Clive Greensmith talks with Inside the Notes

Cellist Clive Greensmith is a professor of cello and chamber music at the Colburn School. He joined the Whatcom Symphony in Bellingham, WA for the North American premier of Pál Hermann’s cello concerto. The complete work was realized from Hermann’s sketches and orchestrated by composer, Fabio Conti.  Below, you will find a clip of the initial performance of the First Movement, at the Recovered Voices Symposium. For more information about this piece and the foundations, you can read more about the Ziering-Conlon Initiative, the ARC Ensemble, and OREL Foundation.

Clive Greensmith, cello

Clive Greensmith is the cello and chamber music professor at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA.  He was also a member of the Tokyo String Quartet for 14 years.  In this interview you will enjoy stories from his childhood and his journey to the Tokyo String Quartet.

Clive Greensmith has a distinguished career as soloist, chamber musician and teacher. From 1999 until 2013 he was a member of the world-renowned Tokyo String Quartet, giving over one hundred performances each year in the most prestigious international venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, London’s South Bank, Paris Chatelet, Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

Tokyo Sting Quartet   Photo: Marco Borggreve

He has collaborated with international artists such as Midori, Andras Schiff, Pinchas Zukerman, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Alicia de Larrocha and Emmanuel Ax.

Inside the Notes
Clive Greensmith and Erika Block after the taping of Inside the Notes

Mr. Greensmith has given guest performances at prominent festivals worldwide. In North America he has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Ravinia Festival. Internationally he has appeared at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, Pacific Music Festival in Japan and the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

As a soloist, Clive Greensmith has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and the RAI Orchestra of Rome among others.


During a career spanning over twenty-five years, Mr. Greensmith has built up a catalogue of landmark recordings, most notably The Complete Beethoven String Quartet Cycle for Harmonia Mundi with the Tokyo String Quartet, which can be purchased here. Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ Quartets with the Tokyo String Quartet and Brahms Cello Sonatas with Boris Berman for Biddulph Recordings, and Clarinet Trios by Beethoven and Brahms with Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse for Harmonia Mundi (here). His recording of Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major with the Tokyo String Quartet was named an “Outstanding” recording by the International Record Review.

Clive Greensmith, cello

At the age of twenty, Clive Greensmith came to the music world’s attention during an internationally broadcast BBC television masterclass series hosted by Paul Tortelier, a pre-eminent cellist of the 20th century. Mr. Greensmith studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in England with American cellist, Donald McCall, where he was the recipient of the prestigious Julius Isserlis Scholarship. A Royal Society of Arts scholarship enabled him to continue his studies at the Cologne Musikhochschule in Germany with Russian cellist Boris Pergamenschikow

In 1987 he made his concerto debut with the London Symphony Orchestra and went on to be First Prize Winner in the Sergio Lorenzi chamber music competition in Trieste, Italy, and First Prize Winner in the Caltanisetta Duo competition. Most notably, as a major prize winner in the first ever “Premio Stradivari” held in Cremona, Italy in 1991, Mr. Greensmith was launched into a series of major recital and concerto appearances throughout Europe.

Deeply committed to the mentoring and development of young musicians, Clive has enjoyed a long and distinguished teaching career. In addition to his fifteen-year residency with the Tokyo String Quartet at Yale University, Mr. Greensmith has served as a member of faculty at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal Northern College of Music in England, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music and New York University. In 2014 he was appointed Co-Director of Chamber Music and Professor of Cello at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Students of Mr. Greensmith have gone on to secure major positions in orchestras throughout the world and have won a number of prestigious awards. In 2015 he was a jury member at the 2015 Carl Nielsen Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen.
Mr Greensmith is a founding member of the Montrose Trio with pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist Martin Beaver.

The Montrose Trio

This was the first presentation of the Pál Hermann concerto at the Recovered Voices Symposium.


Mr. Greensmith currently performs with Martin Beaver, and Jon Kimura Parker in the Montrose Trio.

Here is a clip of Mr. Greensmith at 20, performing in the Tortelier masterclass.


This is the recording of Pablo Casals that Mr. Greensmith mentioned in the interview.


This is the recording of Shostakovich 5 that was an influence on Clive as a young musician.

Mr. Greensmith was a guest principal for this recording with Renée Fleming. In this track, there is an extended cello solo.

A live performance of the Montrose Trio, for a performance at the Rockport Music Festival, last June.


Here is an example of the third movement of Mozart K575, which was one of the pieces in Mr. Greensmith’s audition with the Tokyo Quartet.

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