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Yuli Turovsky founded the I Musici chamber orchestra and conducted it for 27 years. (analekta.com)

Yuli Turovsky, a cellist and conductor who founded Montreal’s I Musici chamber orchestra, has died. He was 73.

The Russian-born classical musician died overnight in Montreal.

Turovsky founded I Musici in 1983, fulfilling a dream he had had since arriving in Canada with little money and few contacts. He was director and conductor of the string orchestra for 27 years.

His wife, Eleonor, was principal violin of I Musici from its founding until 2011. She predeceased him in 2012.

He made more than 30 recordings and toured internationally with I Musici.

Listen to Montreal arts reporter Pierre Landry's interview with Françoise Morin:

The I Musici violinist remembers her friend, cellist and conductor Yuli Turovsky

Turovsky stepped down from his role as conductor of I Musici in May 2011, because of the effects of Parkinson’s disease. He had continued to work with New Generation, a youth chamber orchestra made up of students from the University of Montreal, where he taught.

Born in Moscow on June 7, 1939, Turovsky played cello from the age of seven and studied at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1969 he won the USSR Cello Competition and later became principal cello of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.

He left the Soviet Union in 1976 and settled in Montreal, forming the Borodin Trio with Rotislav Dubinsky on violin and Luba Edlina on piano. They toured internationally and made numerous recordings, including The Modern Cello, featuring Turovsky as a cello soloist, for the Chandos label.

As a soloist, Turovsky played with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre métropolitain and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

He taught at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal  from 1977-85 and at the University of Montreal beginning in 1981. Turovsky was named officer of the Order of Canada in 2011.