Eleanore Schoenfeld was born in Berlin. She and her sister Alice, a violinist, showed early musical talent. Eleanore was admitted to the Berlin Hochschule für Musik at the age of 14, the youngest student there on record.
Both of them studied chamber music with Eleanore's violin teacher, Karl Klingler. It was for Klingler and cellist Robert Hausmann that Johannes Brahms wrote his Double Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, and the two sisters have frequently played the work. The two of them consider that learning Brahms' chamber music from Klingler gave them a kind of musical descent from Brahms. They maintained their chamber music relationship by appearing frequently together as the Schoenfeld duo.
They both emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1952, and embarked on successful concert, teaching, and coaching careers. They returned often to Germany to conduct annual summer Karl Klingler seminars.
Eleanore has become one of the most respected cello teachers in America. She became Professor of Cello and Chairman of the String Department of the School of Music at the University of Southern California. As such, she coordinates a biennial Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists.