Blessed with a pretty good homonym for a surname, he is not to be confused with his namesake, the famous jazz producer. This Richard Bock picked up the cello at twelve years of age, studying at Julliard. Six years later, he became the youngest principal musician in the history of the American Symphony Orchestra, hand-picked by none other than Leopold Stokowski. He aced the audition in spite of little formal training beyond Julliard.
In fact, Richard would find himself much in demand as a principal cellist and featured soloist throughout his career. After his stint with the ASO, he was recruited by Riccardo Muti to join the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra, which required him to move to Florence, Italy. (Life is hard for musicians.) It did not take long for the Musicus Concentus Chamber Players to pluck him for a pair of tours in Germany and Italy. Richard remained in Florence for about eight years, and then returned to the States, although it was short-lived return.
Soon, he found himself touring the former Soviet Union with the Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra. His rendition of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major wowed them in Kiev, Leningrad, Moscow, Riga, and Vilna. So impressed were the Soviets, Bock was soon recruited to join the ranks of the Soviet Émigré Orchestra, and as if his itinerary wasn’t screwy enough, they wound up touring the States.
It seemed like a good time to put down stakes for a while, so Richard didn’t hesitate when Julius Rudel drafted him into the Buffalo Philharmonic. Not content to be static for any amount of time, Richard also helped found the Westminster Chamber Orchestra.
In the 1990s, he moved again, this time to Phoenix, Arizona, where he has performed with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra until the present day.
In his copious free time, Richard is also a restauranteur. A few years ago, he bought an Italian restaurant called Giuseppe’s, with the goal of bringing a little bit of Florence to Phoenix. He culled some recipes from Florence during his eight years there, and spiced up the menu with some of these, as well as changing the décor into something a little more Florentine, although he retained the staff and the chefs seemed to savour the opportunity to cook up some of these genuine Italian treats. Needless to say, Richard’s schedule is filled, between opening the restaurant in the morning, zooming off to rehearsal at 9:45 a.m., spending several hours there and then returning to Giuseppe’s to schmooze with the clientele and help close up shop.
The only time you won’t find him at the restaurant is for rehearsals and performances, and the annual Kol Nidre in Sun City’s Temple Beth Shalom.
It is hard to believe, with all of his moving around and working with different orchestras, that Richard has had time to even step into a studio, but he has made several recordings of note, many of them with Tim Hardin, such as Bird on a Wire and Simple Songs, Good and Plenty with Jon Faddis, Chaka Khan’s self-titled Chaka, Frank Sinatra’s Trilogy, and Eric Weissberg’s Baroque and on the Street. He has also made a couple of recordings of Miklos Rozsa’s music, both with James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, one featuring his Sinfonia Concertante, and the other his Hungarian Sketches.
Next time you’re in Phoenix, make sure to order the canolis. Giuseppe’s can be found at 2824 East Indian School Road. Ask for the cellist. He knows all the best dishes on the menu.
Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)
Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)
Here he is performing on Harold Budd’s “Mars and the City (after Cy Twombly)” from his In the Mist…