Itzhak Perlman: I was talented and played the violin, but people didn’t really take it very seriously because of my polio — because I had polio when I was four.

Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician.

And so I was sitting down, and I was playing, and people always said, “Well, you know, I don’t know if you’re going to have a career…” blah, blah, blah. Shortly after, he began to study the violin. After learning the violin at Shulamit High School in Tel-Aviv, he was performing with the Israel Broadcasting Orchestra. Itzhak Perlman: One of the difficult things is, I say to the kids, you know, sometimes when they have a performance of a well known piece, like let’s say Mendelssohn violin concerto. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world, who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, …

Mr. Perlman was born to a barber in Israel in 1945. The world’s reigning virtuoso violin player, Itzhak Perlman performs for presidents, royals, and classical music lovers around the world. Jane Jones sheds light on the story behind Barber's only Violin Concerto.

Since his appearance at age 13 on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958, Itzhak Perlman has done much to popularize classical violin.

I say to them “The challenge of playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto for the first time is …

One of the only household names in classical music today, Itzhak Perlman, the reigning virtuoso of the violin, enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Though stricken with polio at age four, Perlman is ambulatory on canes and an electric scooter, and has concertized and recorded worldwide. An unplayable finale and a meddling violin teacher?


I was sitting quite near to the front and could not help noticing a violinist in the orchestra who was directly in my line of vision, a woman in her early twenties. The idea for The Violin Lesson came one Christmas after going to a concert performance of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in London. At first, I thought she was a former student of mine. Trained at conservatory in Tel Aviv, Perlman first came to the U.S. to study at Juilliard. Now the beloved Juilliard instructor and 15-time Grammy Award winner brings his passion for teaching to a wide audience for the first time. The American composer Samuel Barber was – depending on who you talk to – either one of the most talented lyrical composers of his generation, or one of the most anachronistic and old fashioned in the 20th century, deaf to the latest ideas and musical trends. He contracted polio and lost the use of his legs at the age of four.


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