Yuli Turovsky was one of many Russian émigré musicians who established a career in the West as a conductor and soloist. Like Mstislav Rostropovich, he was trained as a cellist who gradually became attracted to conducting, often splitting his career evenly between the podium and instrumental performance. He was probably best-known as the conductor of I Musici de Montréal, the Canadian chamber ensemble he founded and with which he appeared on over 40 recordings.
Turovsky started lessons on the cello at seven; two years later, in 1946, he began studies at Moscow's Central School of Music. After graduating in 1957, he enrolled at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he studied cello with Galina Kozolupova. He graduated in 1962 with high honors and received a doctorate degree from the conservatory in 1969, by which time he had already established a career both as a soloist and chamber music collaborator. He was a member of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, led by Rudolf Barshai, serving as principal cellist and often performing as a soloist. He had also tried his hand at conducting by this time, leading a group formed at Moscow's Gnessin Music School. In 1969, he captured first prize at the prestigious U.S.S.R. Cello Competition, after which his career rapidly advanced. He made a number of recordings with the Soviet label Melodiya and began gaining international recognition from their issue, as well as from his tours abroad with the MCO In 1976, he emigrated from the Soviet Union to Canada with his wife, Eleonora Turovsky, a violinist with whom he often concertized. Settling in Montreal, Turovsky founded the Borodin Trio in 1977 and, with his wife, also formed the Turovsky Duo. The other members of the Borodin Trio were Luba Edlina on piano and Rostislav Dubinsky on violin. Turovsky also joined the faculty of the Montreal Conservatory in 1977, serving until 1985. In 1980, Turovsky was granted Canadian citizenship and the following year began teaching at the University of Montreal. He founded the Montreal-based chamber ensemble I Musici de Montréal in 1983, but the group would not give its first public concert until November 1984. The ensemble consists of only 15 players -- nine violinists, three violists, two cellists, and one double-bass player. Eleonora Turovsky was appointed concertmaster. (It should be noted that she is also a well-known painter, her work having attracted attention at exhibitions in both Moscow and Montreal.) In 1983, Turovsky and his I Musici group began making recordings for the Chandos label. Their more successful efforts included the Shostakovich Symphony No. 14, the Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence, and Schoenberg's Verklärte Nachte. In 1993, Turovsky departed the Borodin Trio as his activities both in the concert hall and recording studio were growing more demanding. He had made about 25 recordings with the group, which included performances of piano trios by Hummel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and many other works.