Cello professor Aldo Parisot MUS ’48, the longest-serving faculty member at the Yale School of Music and oldest faculty member at Yale, has retired from his post at YSM, the University announced last week.
Parisot, who is 99 years old, joined Yale’s faculty 60 years ago, in 1958. He was born in Brazil, and made his debut with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra when he was 12. In 1946, Parisot came to the United States to study at YSM, and made U.S. debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood the same year. An internationally acclaimed performer and teacher, Parisot has drawn students from around the world to Yale to study with him.
“Aldo Parisot’s tenure at the Yale School of Music has been nothing short of extraordinary,” YSM Dean Robert Blocker said in a statement to the News. “His transformative legacy is impossible to adequately summarize.”
Blocker highlighted Parisot’s dedication to his students, noting that Parisot “loved his students as much as any teacher I have ever known.”
Cellist Eric Adamshick MUS ’18, a former student of Parisot’s, said the retiring professor “thinks of his students as his children.”
Adamshick added that the most important lesson he learned while studying with Parisot was to embrace his individuality as a performer — to “be your own person.”
“He always stressed that he didn’t want us to become the next Parisot, he wanted us to become ourselves,” Adamshick said.
Another student, Jenny Kwak MUS ’17, also highlighted this emphasis on individuality as a defining aspect of Parisot’s teaching. Rather than dictating how to approach pieces of music, Kwak said, Parisot encouraged her to allow her personality to rise to the fore.
Lessons with Parisot were different each week, Kwak said. She described some lessons during which Parisot would stop her after she played just one note to share stories about his life. Other times, she said, Parisot would ask her to “keep playing piece after piece.”
In addition to teaching private lessons, Parisot led the Yale Cellos, a cello ensemble of YSM students that Parisot founded in 1983. The group has made numerous recordings and has toured internationally.
“Yale Cellos was the most helpful ensemble I was a part of while at Yale,” Adamshick said. “It created a sense of teamwork between the cellists and [Parisot] demanded a different level of dynamic flexibility and listening from any other ensemble I’ve listened to before.”
Ole Akahoshi MUS ’97, a cello professor at YSM who studied with Parisot at Yale and The Juilliard School, described Parisot as “one of the best cello teachers in the world.” Akahoshi added that even years later, he still thinks of Parisot as his teacher.
“He is my mentor, my godfather or grandfather, and most importantly, my best friend,” Akahoshi said. “Mr. Parisot continues to inspire me to consciously reevaluate myself day by day to become a better human being.”
Next year, cellist Paul Watkins will teach YSM cello students as a visiting cello professor. Cellist In addition, Ralph Kirshbaum ’68, a former student of Parisot’s, will lead masterclasses and potentially teach private lessons throughout the academic year.
On top of his musical abilities, Parisot is also an avid painter, and has exhibited his work in galleries and concert halls worldwide.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Aldo Parisot is the longest-serving faculty member at Yale. A statement by Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker and an article in the Yale Alumni Magazine both made the same error. In fact, Professors Harold Bloom and Martin Saunders are the University’s longest-serving faculty members.