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Thelma Yellin-Bentwich

YELLIN-BENTWICH, THELMA (1895–1959), Israeli cellist and pedagogue, a leading personality in the creation and shaping of musical life in Israel. She was born in England as the ninth child of the aristocratic Bentwich family, all the members of which received professional instrumental training. She studied at the Royal College of Music in London, and was accepted by Pablo Casals as a private pupil. In 1915 she founded in London the all-women trio with Myra *Hess and Jelly d'Arranyi. Yet the tensions of the life of a traveling professional soloist did not suit her nature. In 1919 she joined her brother and two sisters who had already settled in Jerusalem and married Eliezer Yellin, the son of David *Yellin. In 1921 she founded the Jerusalem Music Society which pioneered high quality weekly concerts of chamber music in Jerusalem to a cosmopolitan audience of Jews, Arabs, British, German, and members of other nationalities. The backbone of these concerts was the Jerusalem String Quartet, the first in the country, with her sister, violinist Margery Bentwich. In 1951 she joined the Israeli String Quartet with Lorand and Alice Fenyves (violins) and Oeden *Partos (viola). She also appeared with the Philharmonic and radio orchestras and taught cello and chamber music at the academies of music in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as one of the most admired cello pedagogues in the country. Her plans for a "music gymnasium" for talented children came to fruition in 1962 in Tel Aviv when the Thelma Yellin Gymnasium was opened.


M. Bentwich, Thelma Yellin, Pioneer Musician (1964); J. Hirshberg, Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine 18801948 (1995).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.