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Itzhak Perlman was born in 1945 in Israel. He began playing on a toy violin at age three until he was old enough to play on a real violin. His family emigrated to the United States in 1958, and at age 13 he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, launching his professional career. I remember seeing that broadcast and my mother commenting on his skill and his young age at the time. This might have been that actual performance; if not, it’s from the same time period:
Perlman contracted polio at age four. When he first started performing, much was made of the poor kid with the crutches, and people speculated that his career would be short because of his disability. He proved the naysayers wrong by becoming one of the most popular violinists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, playing as a solo recitalist and symphonic soloist with a varied repertoire, performing with the finest orchestras all over the world, and also on television (such as The Late Show with David Letterman, Sesame Street, The Tonight Show, the Grammy Awards telecasts, and numerous Live From Lincoln Center Broadcasts) and in movies. He also advocates for the disabled.
One of his most famous performances was on the soundtrack of Schindler’s List, playing the gorgeous music of John Williams’ score.
In January 2009, Perlman participated in the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing with clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Gabriela Montero, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In December 2003 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts granted Mr. Perlman a Kennedy Center Honor celebrating his distinguished achievements and contributions to the cultural and educational life of our nation. In May 2007, he performed at the State Dinner for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, hosted by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush at the White House.
In February 2008, Itzhak Perlman was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the recording arts. His recordings regularly appear on the best-seller charts and have earned him fifteen Grammy Awards.
Click here to view a video of Perlman conducting and playing the solo in “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
The Perlman music program, founded in 1995 by Itzhak’s wife, Toby Perlman, and Suki Sandler, started as a summer camp for exceptional string musicians between the ages of 11 and 18. Over time, it expanded to a year-long program. Itzhak Perlman and other string teachers coach the students before they perform at venues such as the Sutton Place Synagogue and public schools. The program strives to have musicians who would otherwise practice alone develop a network of friends and colleagues.
Itzhak Perlman is also known for his delightful sense of humor. Here is a portion of a performance with the Boston Pops, John Williams, and Peter Schickele.
At least three documentaries have been made of Perlman’s life. Below is the trailer for the most recent one.
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Antonio Stradivari (1644—December 18, 1737) was an Italian luthier, a crafter of string instruments. He is considered the greatest artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial “Strad” are terms often used to refer to his instruments. Scholars estimate that Antonio produced 1,116 instruments, of which 960 were violins. It is estimated that around 650 of these instruments survive.
It is believed that Stradivari was a student of Nicola Amati, apprenticed from 1656–58, and produced his first decent instruments in 1660, at the age of 16. His first labels were printed from 1660 to 1665, indicating that his work had sufficient quality to be offered directly to his patrons. However, he stayed in Amati’s workshop until about 1684, using his master’s reputation as a launching point for his career.
In the early 1690s, Stradivari made a pronounced departure from his earlier style of instrument-making, changing two key elements of his instruments. First, he began to make violins with a larger pattern than previous instruments; these larger violins usually are known as “Long Strads”. He also switched to using a darker, richer varnish, as opposed to a yellower varnish similar to that used by Amati. He continued to use this pattern until 1698, with few exceptions. After 1698, he abandoned the Long Strad model and returned to a slightly shorter model, which he used until his death. The period from 1700 until the 1720s is often termed the “golden period” of his production. Instruments made during this time are usually considered of a higher quality than his earlier instruments.
Stradivari’s instruments are regarded as amongst the finest bowed stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and are still played by professionals today.
Click here to listen to videos of world-class performers, such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and Yo Yo Ma, playing Stradivarius instruments.
The Vienna Philharmonic uses several Stradivari instruments that were purchased by the National Bank of Austria and other sponsors.
Information for this article came from Wikipedia.