Itzhak Perlman (born August 31, 1945) (in Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv) is an Israeli virtuoso violinist and teacher. He is regarded as one of the greatest violinists of the late 20th century, and is certainly among the most famous.
He began to study in Tel Aviv after hearing the violin being played on the radio. During 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for their concerts in Warsaw and Budapest, as well as other Eastern bloc countries. He toured with the IPO in the spring of 1990 for their first-ever performance in the USSR, with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, and toured with the IPO again in 1994, performing in China and India.
Perlman contracted polio at the age of four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with the use of crutches. Today, he generally uses crutches for mobility and plays the violin while seated. There is a popular story that, instead of getting up in the middle of a concert to replace a broken string on his violin, he finished the concert with only three strings. However, the story is likely to be an urban legend.
Perlman studied at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv before moving to the United States to study at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay. He made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1963. Soon afterward he began to tour extensively. In addition to an extensive recording career, he has made occasional guest appearances on American television, starting in the 1970s on shows such as The Tonight Show and Sesame Street, as well as playing at a number of functions at the White House.
While primarily a solo artist, Perlman has performed with a number of other notable musicians, including with Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, and Yuri Temirkanov at the 150th anniversary celebration of Tchaikovsky in Leningrad in December 1990.
As well as playing and recording the classical music for which he is best known, Perlman has also played jazz (including an album made with preeminent jazz pianist Oscar Peterson); and klezmer. Perlman has been a soloist for a number of movie scores, notably the score of Schindler's List (1993) by John Williams, which subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Score. More recently, he was the violin soloist for Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), along with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Perlman can sing, and has actually sung in a performance.
Perlman plays on the famous Soil Stradivarius violin, considered to be the finest violin made during Stradivari's "golden period."
In recent years, Perlman has also begun to conduct, taking the post of Principal Guest Conductor at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He served as the Music Advisor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2002-2004.
In 2003, Mr. Perlman was named the holder of the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair in Violin Studies at the Juilliard School, succeeding his teacher, Dorothy DeLay.
Itzhak Perlman resides in New York City with his wife, Toby. In 1995, they founded the Perlman Music Program in Shelter Island, New York, offering gifted young string players a summer residential course in chamber music.
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