Nov 07

Itzhak Perlman: An Inspirational Virtuoso

I have been inspired by many violinists, but one stands out in particular. This musician overcame a big obstacle in his life, and didn’t let it stop him from becoming extraordinary.


Itzhak Perlman performing

Itzhak Perlman was born in Tel Aviv, British Palestine on August 31, 1945. Having contracted polio at age four, he was able to make a good recovery. Today he walks using crutches and plays the violin while seated.

This is not a typical situation for most musicians, but Perlman didn’t focus on his limitations. Instead, he diligently studied the violin and became extremely accomplished.

Perlman first heard someone playing the violin on the radio, and this inspired him with a desire to play. From an early age, he studied violin at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv until moving to the United States to study at the Julliard School under master teachers Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.


In 1963, Itzhak Perlman made his debut at Carnegie Hall, as well as winning the Leventritt Competition in 1964. At this point he began to tour extensively, making appearances on American television programs. He has also played for several functions at the White House.

In 1987, Itzhak Perlman joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and toured Russia, China, and India, primarily as a solo artist. He has played with other notable musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Isaac Stern, Yuri Temirkanov, and Pinchas Zukerman.

Perlman also enjoys playing jazz, and has been a soloist in several movie scores. Recently, he conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Westchester Philharmonic.


In 1975, he joined the faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, and in 2003 succeeded his own teacher, Dorothy DeLay, at the Julliard School. Perlman also began his own music program on Long Island, New York, where he teaches master classes to promising young violinists.


Itzhak Perlman has the privilege of playing an antique Soil Stradiviarius violin that was made in 1714. This violin was formerly owned by Yehudi Menuhim and is considered to be one of the finest made during Stradivarius’ “golden period.” He also plays the Sauret Guarneri del Gesu, made in 1743.


If you already play the violin, do know of someone who inspires you? If you don’t yet play the violin, have you ever been inspired to play when listening to or watching someone else?Tell us about it!

And If you haven’t yet begun to play the violin, let the friendly, helpful staff at Kennedy Violins assist you in selecting a violin that will be just right for you.


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