Ralph Henry Kirshbaum (born April 4, 1946) is an American cellist currently living in England.The rare cello that Ralph Kirshbaum plays was crafted in 1729 by the Italian maker Domenico Montagnana and once belonged to the 19th century virtuoso, Piatti. Ralph Kirshbaum’s father was a professional violinist, music educator and conductor; his mother was a harpist. Kirshbaum started cello lessons with his father at age of six. During his career he has performed solos with major orchestras worldwide, won prizes in several international competitions, and recorded extensively. His special love for the Elgar Concerto dates from his memorable televised performance with Sir Charles Groves at the Jubilee Proms in 1977. The Boston Globe wrote: “His playing of this noble music of regret and farewell is subtle, intense, piercingly sad and absolutely spellbinding.” In 1991 The Times wrote of the “…poetry flowing freely from the artist’s imagination.”
He gives annual master classes at The International Musician’s Seminar in Prussia Cove, the London Masterclasses and throughout the world.
In the fall of 2008, he assumes the “Gregor Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in Violoncello” at the University of Southern California’s USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. He becomes only the fourth person to hold the position after Piatigorsky himself; the other three are Lynn Harrell (1986-1993), Ronald Leonard (1993-2003), and Eleonore Schoenfeld (2004-2007).