Russian cellist Natalia Shakhovskaya was born in Moscow on 27 September 1935 and studied at Moscow's Gnessin School of Music and then at the Moscow Conservatory with Semyon Kozolupov and Mstislav Rostropovich. She won the gold medal at the International Festival for Young Moscow Studients in 1957, and first prize and gold medal at the second International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962. She had an active career as a soloist in recitals and with conductors and orchestras internationally. Sofia Gubaidulina wrote a piece for her, and Shakhovskaya gave first performances of works by several other contemporary Russian composers. She was a People's Artist of the USSR.
When Rostropovich left Russia, Shakhovskaya took his post at the Moscow Conservatory, running the cello and double bass departments, from 1974 until 1995.
She gave masterclasses internationally and sat on the juries of performance competitions in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia and South Africa.
At the time of her death in Moscow on 20 May 2017, aged eighty-one, Natalia Shakhovskaya was principal teacher at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid.
Her students included Boris Andrianov, Sergey Antonov, Fernando Arias, Suren Bagratuni, Vladimir Balshin, Matthew Barley, Penny Driver, Pablo Ferrández, Maxime Ganz, Víctor García García, Anzél Gerber, Pyotr Gladysh, Robert Grod, Natalia Khoma, Millán Abeledo Malheiro, Truls Mørk, Lucía Otero, Marion Platero, Kirill Rodin, Evgeny Rumyantsev, Denis Shapovalov, Nikolay Shugaev, Elizaveta Sushchenko, Laura Szabo, Evgeny Tonkha, István Várdai, Daniel Veis, Sonia Wieder-Atherton and Igor Zubkovsky. More than forty of them won international competitions.