Itzhak Perlman - biography
Itzhak Perlman (Hebrew: יצחק פרלמן; born August 31, 1945) is an Israeli-American violin virtuoso, conductor, and master-instructor. He is widely considered to be one of the pre-eminent violin virtuosi of the 20th century.
Perlman was born in Tel Aviv, British Palestine, where he first became interested in the violin after hearing a classical music performance on the radio. He studied at the Shulamit Conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv before moving to the United States to study at the Juilliard School with the great violin pedagogue, Ivan Galamian, and his assistant Dorothy DeLay.
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 or an electric Amigo scooter for mobility and plays the violin while seated.
He made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1963 and won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964. 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.
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 which 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.
In 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 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 Soviet Union, with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, and toured with the IPO again in 1994, performing in China and India.
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 klezmer. Perlman has been a soloist for a number of movie scores, notably the score of the 1993 film Schindler's List by John Williams, which subsequently won an Academy Award for best 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.
Perlman played during the entertainment at the state dinner attended by Queen Elizabeth II on May 7, 2007, in the East Room at the White House.
He performed John Williams' "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). The quartet played along with a recording they had made of themselves two days earlier, since stringed instruments cannot reliably stay in tune in subfreezing temperatures.
Perlman appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and performed with The Roots on February 26th, 2011.
Perlman plays on the antique Soil Stradivarius violin of 1714, formerly owned by Yehudi Menuhin and considered to be one of the finest violins made during Stradivari's "golden period", as well as the Sauret Guarneri del Gesu of c.1743.
In recent years, Perlman has also begun to conduct, taking the post of principal guest conductor at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He served as music advisor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2002–2004. 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.
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. He also currently instructs pupils on a one-on-one basis 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.
Itzhak Perlman resides in New York City with his wife, Toby, also a classically trained violinist. They have five children: Noah, Navah, Leora, Rami (of the rock band, Something for Rockets) and Ariella. In 1995, the Perlmans founded the Perlman Music Program in Shelter Island, New York, offering gifted young string players a summer residential course in chamber music. Perlman is distant cousin to Canadian comic/TV personality Howie Mandel.