Who is Itzhak Perlman, and what has he contributed to violin music?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A violin virtuoso, Itzhak Perlman was a child prodigy, who became enthralled with the violin after having heard a classical music performance on the radio. Too small at age 3 to be admitted to the Schulamit Conservatory, Itzhak taught himself on a play fiddle until he was old enough. Amazingly, at the age of 10, he had his first recital at the Academy of Music at Tel Aviv. 

Itzhak came to the United States in order to study at Julliard School in New York; Julliard is considered one of the world's most prestigious music schools. Under the tutelage of Ivan Galamian and his assistant Dorothy DeLay, Perlman flourished. In 1958, at the age of thirteen, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show where he awed audiences with his talent. He reappeared in 1964 on Sullivan's show, one that, in contrast, also presented The Rolling Stones. In 1963, he made his professional debut at Carnegie Hall. Soon afterwards, he began touring, but he always possessed humility and would appear on children's shows and such programs as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

In 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and toured the Eastern bloc countries, performing in such cities as Warsaw (his parents were from Poland) and Budapest. In 1990, he performed with the IPO in the Soviet Union, and later in Communist China in 1994.

As well as performing classical music, Itzhak Perlman enjoys jazz, often playing with jazz pianist Oscar Petersen. Moreover, Perlman has contributed his talent to musical scores for films, such as Schindler's List and Memoirs of a Geisha, along with Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma from France.

Perlman's wife Toby, also a violinist, along with Suki Sandler, founded the Perlman Music Program that has a summer camp for exceptional violinsts between the ages of 11 and 18. There these young musicians meet others of their ilk and form friendships during practice sessions in which they would otherwise be alone. Besides teaching these youth, Perlman has taught at Julliard and the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. In addition, he has conducted in different cities of the United States. He plays using the antique Soil Stradivarius violin of 1714, when some of the finest violins were made.

Certainly one of the greatest of violinists, Maestro Itzhak Perlman has won numerous awards, among which are several Grammys, the Medal of Liberty, and the National Medal of Arts.

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CaitlynnReeves's profile pic

CaitlynnReeves | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Itzhak Perlman is a violin virtuoso. His style of playing has greatly shapped the past several decades of classical musicians. In the past the accepted forms of playing violin solos involved tempered expression and little physical emotion. Itzhak Perlman challenged that through his passionately expressive performances and aggressive playing style. To date his recordings (and those of Jascha Heifetz) are considered the truest interpretations of many songs. 

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