(UPDATED 5/15 WITH PROBABLE CAUSE OF DEATH)
Dmitry Volkov, a promising Russian-born cellist who received an Artist Diploma from Peabody Conservatory last year, died on May 10 while visiting Baltimore. He was 26.
The cause of death appears to have been a heart defect.
"The preliminary word is that it was cardiac arrhythmia," said violinist Daniel Heifetz, founder of the Heifetz International Music Institute at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., where Mr. Volkov had been an artist in residence. "Dmitry was complaining to me of chest pains for a couple months, but he never went to a doctor. It will be a few weeks before all the toxology tests are done."
Mr. Heifetz, a major mentor to the cellist for the past several years, has made arrangements for the return of the body to his family in Tolyatti, Russia for burial. A memorial for the Peabody community will be held on Monday.
The Heifetz Institute has posted a tribute to Mr. Volkov on is Web site. Here is a portion:
Dmitry will be remembered as a virtuoso on the cello, for his charm both on and off the stage, and ... his kind nature. Dmitry was truly a one-of-a-kind individual ... It is rare to find a person for whom no one will offer a disparaging word, and rarer still to find one who offers none in return. Both could be said of Dmitry. He was a friend to all of us here at the Institute, and his passing has left an impact that will not be soon forgotten.
A Moscow Conservatory graduate, Mr. Volkov did his artist diploma studies at Peabody with Amit Peled.
"I'm so shocked by Dmitry's sudden death," Mr. Peled said. "I loved him like a son, and have enjoyed working intensely with him for the past few years, while witnessing his blossoming as an artist. This is a real tragedy to all of us who knew him so closely."
A day or so before his death, Mr. Volkov visited Peabody, where the conservatory's director, Jeffrey Sharkey, helped the cellist with his permanent resident application.
"This is a ripping from us," Mr. Sharkey added. "Even though he graduated, Dmitry was very much a part of the Peabody community. He was on an amazing [career] trajectory. Yes, there was virtuosity, but also beautiful musicianship. And he could charm an audience with a wry smile while playing."
With two Peabody colleagues, violinist Nikita Borisevich and pianist Katherine Harris Rick, Mr. Volkov founded the Russian Trio, which won the 2014 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition in Ohio last month.
Here is the statement released to the Peabody community on May 12 by Mr. Sharkey:
We were shocked and saddened to learn that Dmitry Volkov passed away this weekend. The death of any member of our community touches all of us and it is especially wrenching when we lose someone at such a young age. Dmitry recently received his Artist Diploma from Peabody ... His cello career was on an upward trajectory including winning the prestigious Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition in 2009 and the release of his first solo CD. He was working assiduously towards becoming a permanent resident of the United States.
I have fond memories of many of Dmitry's performances. One that stands out was taking Dmitry and fellow students to a special profile raising concert in New York City. As you would expect, his performance captivated the audience and he was engaging not only with his playing, but with his perceptive and wry commentary from the stage.
Dmitry was taken from us far too soon. We can give thanks that he touched so many of our lives and that we had the chance to be moved and inspired by his cello performances. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dmitry's family and friends and with all of Amit Peled's cello studio.