Nigel Kennedy pays tribute to cellist Lynn Harrell, who has died aged 76

Nigel Kennedy has labelled Lynn Harrell the “world’s greatest cellist” following his death at the age of 76.

The British violinist, who recorded music and toured with his cello-playing US counterpart, said that Harrell had an “incredible joy of music and of life”.

Harrell’s wife Helen Nightengale announced his death on Tuesday at the age of 76, saying that he “will be missed more than you will ever know”.

South Bank Sky Arts Awards – London
(Yui Mok/PA)

Kennedy said that he had received encouragement from Grammy winner Harrell earlier in his career after he had put himself into “self exile” to keep himself away from “mental midgets from record companies and such like”.

He added: “It was during my extended sabbatical from classical music that, out of the blue, I received a letter expressing regret at my withdrawal from the classical world and generous admiration for the way I play.

“The letter was from Lynn Harrell, the greatest cellist of his generation and maybe for the last hundred years.”

He added that the letter was “typical of Lynn” and resulted in the duo recording music and touring the world.

“During our work together he displayed the incredible joy of music and of life,” Kennedy said.

“Thank you Lynn, for wonderful music and memories.”

Harrell is survived by four children, as well as his wife Nightengale.

We have lost a wonderful father, husband , mensch. All four of Lynn's children, his sister, friends and I mourn him…

Posted by Helen Nightengale on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

She wrote on Facebook: “We have lost a wonderful father, husband, mensch.

“All four of Lynn’s children, his sister, friends and I mourn him along with those who were lucky enough to know his music, his wit and his humanity.

“You were an end of an era, dear Lynn, and will be missed more than you will ever know.

“We love you to the moon and back.

“Rest in peace, dear one, you have earned it.”

Kennedy rose to fame with his 1989 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.