The New York Times
Anthony Tommasini
May 1, 2020

Lynn Harrell, a leading American cellist whose acclaimed playing, begun when he was 8 years old, combined robust sound, insightful musicianship and feeling for nuances, died on April 27 at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76.

His death was announced on social media by his wife, Helen Nightengale, a violinist and former student. His death was sudden, she said by phone, perhaps caused by cardiac arrest.

In his 20s critics were already describing Mr. Harrell as a “gentle giant” of the cello, and both words applied. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and built like a linebacker, with long arms and enormous hands, he seemed to envelop the cello when he played it, producing burnished and penetrating sound easily. Yet he was also a sensitive interpreter and subtle colorist.