Friday, August 31, 2018

Happy Birthday Maestro!

Not too many people can claim to have entertained the Queen of England, played at a Presidential Inauguration, conducted symphony orchestras, appeared on numerous occasions in Carnegie Hall and at other venues of high culture, and whose nimble fingers have recorded some of the most recognized classical and modern musical compositions. Itzhak Perlman, however, is one of those very few remarkable people.

Born on August 31, 1945 in British Mandatory Palestine, Itzhak heard a classical music concert on the radio and, while yet a young child, resolved to learn to play the violin. Six years after contracting polio, resulting in having to rely on leg braces and crutches for mobility, Perlman enrolled in the Shulamit Conservatory in Tel Aviv and participated in his first concert at age 10. He and his family moved to New York, to enable young Itzhak to attend the acclaimed Juilliard School. While only 13 years old, Itzhak appeared on the popular “Ed Sullivan Show,” and again, six years later. Among his most memorable recordings, Perlman played the haunting violin solo in the theme to “Schindler’s List” and laid down the violin track on Billy Joel’s “Downeaster Alexa.”

Perlman loves to share his love of music with others as well. Since 1975, Perlman has taught at Brooklyn College’s Conservatory of Music and, since 2003, has occupied the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair in Violin Studies at Juilliard. Perlman also teaches students one-on-one in the Perlman Music Program on Long Island, NY, which was created in 1995 by Itzhak’s wife Toby, also a classically trained violinist. The Perlman Music Program, which began as a summer program for gifted violinists between the ages of 11 to 18, has been transformed into a year-round program.

Perlman, (whose daughter Nava, attended an NJOP Beginners Service,) has produced countless recordings, both solo and with collaborators. He has won 4 Emmy awards, 15 Grammy awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and received the Genesis Prize from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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