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Itzhak Perlman

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Title: Itzhak Perlman  
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Subject: Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra), Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, Fantasia 2000, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta
Collection: 1945 Births, American Classical Violinists, American People of Israeli Descent, American People of Polish-Jewish Descent, Brooklyn College Faculty, Grammy Award Winners, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners, Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music, Israeli Classical Violinists, Israeli Emigrants to the United States, Israeli Jews, Israeli People of Polish-Jewish Descent, Jewish Classical Violinists, Juilliard School Alumni, Juilliard School Faculty, Kennedy Center Honorees, Leventritt Award Winners, Living People, People from Tel Aviv, People with Poliomyelitis, United States National Medal of Arts Recipients
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Itzhak Perlman

Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman in 1984
Background information
Native name יצחק פרלמן
Born (1945-08-31) August 31, 1945
Tel Aviv, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
Genres Classical, jazz, klezmer, baroque
Occupation(s) Conductor, pedagogue, violinist
Instruments Violin
Years active 1958–present
Website .comitzhakperlman
Notable instruments
Antonio Stradivari 1714 'Soil'[1]
Guarneri del Gesu 1743 'Sauret'[1]
Carlo Bergonzi 1740 'ex-Kreisler'

Itzhak Perlman (Hebrew: יצחק פרלמן‎; born August 31, 1945) is an Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and pedagogue.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Performing 2.1
    • Notable performances 2.2
  • Teaching 3
    • The Perlman Music Program 3.1
    • Conducting 3.2
  • Instruments 4
  • Personal life 5
  • In popular culture 6
  • Honors and awards 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Perlman was born in Tel Aviv in 1945, then British Mandate of Palestine, now Israel. His parents, Chaim and Shoshana Perlman, were natives of Poland and had independently immigrated to Palestine in the mid-1930s before they met and later married.

Perlman first became interested in the violin after hearing a classical music performance on the radio. At the age of three, he was denied admission to the Shulamit Conservatory for being too small to hold a violin.[2] He instead taught himself how to play the instrument using a toy fiddle until he was old enough to study with Rivka Goldgart at the Shulamit Conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, where he gave his first recital at age 10,[3] before moving to the United States to study at the Juilliard School with the violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian and his assistant Dorothy DeLay.[4]

Perlman contracted polio at age four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with crutches. Today, he uses crutches or an electric Amigo scooter for mobility [5] and plays the violin while seated.



Ed Sullivan congratulates Itzhak Perlman after a concert (1958)

Perlman was introduced to the wider American public when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice in 1958, and again in 1964, on the same show with the Rolling Stones.[6] He made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1963 and won the Leventritt Competition in 1964. Soon afterward, he began to tour widely. In addition to an extensive recording and performance career, he has continued to make guest appearances on American television shows such as The Tonight Show and Sesame Street as well as playing at a number of functions at the White House.

Although he has never been billed or marketed as a singer, he sang the role of "Un carceriere" ("a jailer") on a 1981 EMI recording of Puccini's "Tosca" that featured Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Renato Bruson, with James Levine conducting. He had earlier sung the role in an excerpt from the opera on a 1980 Pension Fund Benefit Concert telecast as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series with Luciano Pavarotti as Cavaradossi and Zubin Mehta conducting the New York Philharmonic. Perlman is a basso.

On July 5, 1986, he performed on the New York Philharmonic's tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, which was televised live on ABC Television in the United States.[7] The orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, performed in Central Park.

In 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for their concerts in Warsaw and Budapest as well as other cities in Eastern bloc countries. He toured with the IPO in the spring of 1990 for its first-ever performance in the Soviet Union, with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, and toured with the IPO again in 1994, performing in China and India.

In 2015 on a classical music program entitled The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center produced by WQXR in New York City, it was revealed that Perlman performed the violin solo on the 1989 Billy Joel song The Downeaster Alexa. He was uncredited on the song credits.

While primarily a solo artist, Perlman has performed with a number of other notable musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Isaac Stern, and Yuri Temirkanov at the 150th anniversary celebration of Tchaikovsky in Leningrad in December 1990. He has also performed (and recorded) with good friend and fellow Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman on numerous occasions over the years.

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 jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and in addition, klezmer. Perlman has been a soloist for a number of film scores such as the theme of the 1993 film Schindler's List by John Williams, which subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. More recently, he was the violin soloist for the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha along with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Perlman played selections from the musical scores of the movies nominated for "Best Original Score" at the 73rd Academy Awards with Yo-Yo Ma and at the 78th Academy Awards.

Notable performances

Perlman at the White House in 2007

Perlman played at the state dinner attended by Queen Elizabeth II on May 7, 2007, in the East Room at the White House.[8]

He performed John Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts" at the 2009 inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama along with Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano), and Anthony McGill (clarinet). While the quartet did play live, the music played simultaneously over speakers and on television was a recording made two days prior due to concerns over the cold weather damaging the instruments. Perlman was quoted as saying: "It would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way."[9]


In 1975, Perlman accepted a faculty post at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. 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. Perlman teaches at the Juilliard School for the pre-college program. He also currently teaches students one-on-one at the Perlman Music Program on Long Island, NY, rarely holding master classes. He also taught at a community center in Be'er Sheba, Israel,[10] Perlman generously shares his knowledge with the public outside of formal teaching positions as well. On March 19, 2011, for example, prior to his performance at the Lila Cockrell Theater in downtown San Antonio, TX, Itzhak Perlman met with music lovers of all ages, including local youth orchestras, for a free question-and-answer session moderated by Dr. Eugene Dowdy, associate professor and head of orchestral studies at UT San Antonio. During the teaching session, at Antonio Strad Violin, Perlman educated both children and adults with his answers to questions on technique and playing fitness and his unique tales of performers today.[11]

The Perlman Music Program

The Perlman music program, founded in 1995 by Toby Perlman and Suki Sandler, started as a summer camp for exceptional string musicians between the ages of 11 and 18.[12] Over time, it expanded to a year-long program. Students have the chance to have Itzhak Perlman himself coach them before they play at venues such as the Sutton Place Synagogue and public schools.[13] By introducing students to each other and requiring them to practice together, the program strives to have musicians who would otherwise practice alone develop a network of friends and colleagues. Rather than remain isolated, participants in the program find an area where they belong.[14]


In recent years, Perlman has begun to conduct, taking the post of principal guest conductor at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He served as music advisor to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2002 to 2004. In November 2007, the Westchester Philharmonic announced the appointment of Perlman as artistic director and principal conductor. His first concert in these roles was on October 11, 2008, in an all-Beethoven program featuring pianist Leon Fleisher performing the Emperor Concerto.


Perlman plays the Soil Stradivarius violin of 1714, formerly owned by Yehudi Menuhin and considered one of the finest violins made during Stradivari's "golden period." Perlman also plays the Sauret Guarneri del Gesu of c. 1743.[1]
Guarneri del Gesu 1743 'Sauret' (current)[1]
Carlo Bergonzi 1740 'ex-Kreisler'

Personal life

Perlman resides in New York City with his wife, Toby, also a classically trained violinist. They have five children: Noah, Navah, Leora, Rami and Ariella. Perlman is a distant cousin to Canadian comic/TV personality Howie Mandel.[15]

In popular culture

A 2015 American television commercial, using the premise that mere similar names are not the same, has a fictional orchestra about to play, when it is announced, "tonight's violin performance by Itzhak Perlman will instead be performed by... Rhea Perlman." Not being a musician, her performance is horrible.

Honors and awards


  1. ^ a b c d [2]
  2. ^ "Israeli Violin Prodigy Admits He Likes Jazz". Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Perlman, Itzhak". Oxford Music Online. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Perlman, Itzhak Biography: Contemporary Musicians". Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  5. ^ "How They Roll". Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ Duration: 60 min. "Watch The Ed Sullivan Show Season 12 Episode 8 Itzhak Perlman / Carol Lawrence & Larry Kert / Film: Ed Sullivan Visits Jerusalem". Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Liberty Receives Classical Salute, Sun Sentinel, July 5, 1986". 
  8. ^ "News releases for May 2007" (Press release). The White House. May 7, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2007. 
  9. ^ Quartet pre-recorded Obama music. BBC News (January 23, 2009).
  10. ^ Itzhak Perlman interview on The Charlie Rose Show, (Video) August 9, 2010
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ "The Perlman Music Program: Toby's Project Grows and Grows". Strings. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Perlmans' Proteges: The Perlman Music Program". Strings. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Perlman Student Stirling Trent". Strings. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  15. ^ Brownfield, Paul (June 21, 1998). "New Afternoon Arrival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Newsweek cover story 1980". Retrieved March 25, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b "Perlman awards". Retrieved March 25, 2008. 

External links

  • Itzhak Perlman Primo Artists
  • Itzhak Perlman at AllMusic
  • Itzhak Perlman at the Internet Movie Database
  • Itzhak Perlman biography in the World Concert Artist Directory
  • Itzhak Perlman interview on The Charlie Rose Show (video), August 9th 2010
  • Itzhak Perlman question and answer session, March 19th 2011
  • Itzhak Perlman & John Williams interview on The Charlie Rose Show (video), August 8th 1997
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