Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to his irrepressible joy for making music.
Having performed with every major orchestra and at concert halls around the globe, Perlman has been honored with 16 GRAMMY® Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Genesis Prize. Perlman has received multiple distinctions from U.S. Presidents over the years: A Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Obama in 2015, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2003, a National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 2000, and a Medal of Liberty by President Reagan in 1986.
In May 2021, Perlman commenced a 3-season partnership with the Houston Symphony as Artistic Partner. The first program features him leading the orchestra in a play/conduct all-Beethoven program in celebration of the composer’s 250th anniversary. Further programs will feature him as performer, conductor and recitalist.
In 2021/2022, Perlman opens the Baltimore Symphony season, performs at the NY Philharmonic’s 2021 Season Gala, appears in recital at venues including Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Jones Hall in Houston, and he brings his new program entitled “An Evening with Itzhak Perlman” which captures highlights of his career through narrative and multi-media elements intertwined with performance to San Francisco, Seattle, East Lansing, West Palm Beach, Ft. Myers and Tallahassee.
Perlman recently launched an exclusive series of classes with Masterclass.com, the premier online education company that enables access to the world’s most brilliant minds including Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Helen Mirren, Jodie Foster and Serena Williams, as the company’s only classical-music presentation. Available exclusively at www.masterclass.com/ip, Perlman’s class offers students an intimate and inspirational approach to the world of violin where he covers fundamental techniques, practice strategies, and ways to build a richer sound.
Mr. Perlman has delighted audiences through his frequent appearances on the conductor’s podium. He has performed as conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Montreal and Toronto, as well as at the Ravinia and Tanglewood festivals. He was Music Advisor of the St. Louis Symphony from 2002 to 2004 where he made regular conducting appearances, and he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2001 to 2005. Internationally, Mr. Perlman has conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic.
Further to his engagements as violinist and conductor, Mr. Perlman is increasingly making more appearances as a speaker. Recent speaking engagements include appearances in Texas at Lamar University, South Dakota with the John Vucurevich Foundation, Washington D.C. for the Marriott Foundation and New York, in conversations with Alan Alda at the 92nd Street Y and Alec Baldwin at New York University.
An award-winning documentary on Mr. Perlman, titled “Itzhak”, premiered in October 2017 as the opening film of the 25th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival. It was released theatrically in over 100 cinemas nationwide in March 2018, with international releases that followed in Summer 2018. Directed by filmmaker Alison Chernick, the enchanting documentary details the virtuoso’s own struggles as a polio survivor and Jewish émigré and is a reminder why art is vital to life. For more information, visit www.itzhakthefilm.com. In October 2018, the film made its debut on PBS’ American Masters in a broadcast throughout the United States.
Mr. Perlman’s most recent album features him in a special collaboration with Martha Argerich. Released by Warner Classics, it marked a historic first studio album for this legendary duo exploring masterpieces by Bach, Schumann and Brahms. It had been 18 years since their first album, a live recital from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. On that momentous occasion in 1998, in addition to recording the material for their initial disc, the pair recorded Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 1. The Schumann Sonata at long last was released in 2016 alongside new material, making the album a fascinating ‘then and now’ portrait of how two living legends have evolved musically.
Mr. Perlman recorded a bonus track for the original cast recording of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, released on Broadway Records in March 2016. The cast recording features Perlman on a track titled “Excerpts from Fiddler on the Roof,” arranged by John Williams.
The year of 2015 brought three record releases in celebration of Mr. Perlman’s 70th birthday: A Deutsche Grammophon album with pianist Emanuel Ax performing Fauré and Strauss Sonatas, a 25-disc box set of his complete Deutsche Grammophon and Decca discography, and a 77-disc box set of his complete EMI/Teldec discography titled Itzhak Perlman: The Complete Warner Recordings.
In 2012, Sony released Eternal Echoes: Songs & Dances for the Soul, featuring a collaboration with acclaimed cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot in liturgical and traditional Jewish arrangements for chamber orchestra and klezmer musicians, and in 2010, Sony released a recording of Mendelssohn Piano Trios with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax. Highlights of albums over the last two decades have included a Deutsche Grammophon album with Mr. Perlman conducting the Israel Philharmonic, a live recording with Martha Argerich performing Beethoven and Franck Sonatas (EMI); Cinema Serenade featuring popular hits from movies with John Williams conducting (Sony); A la Carte, a recording of short violin pieces with orchestra (EMI) and In the Fiddler’s House, a celebration of klezmer music (EMI) that formed the basis of the PBS television special. In 2004, EMI released The Perlman Edition, a limited-edition 15-CD box set featuring many of his finest EMI recordings as well as newly compiled material, and RCA Red Seal released a CD titled Perlman rediscovered, which includes material recorded in 1965 by a young Itzhak Perlman. Other recordings reveal Mr. Perlman’s devotion to education, including Concertos from my Childhood with the Juilliard Orchestra under Lawrence Foster (EMI) and Marita and her Heart’s Desire, composed and conducted by Bruce Adolphe (Telarc).
Mr. Perlman has entertained and enlightened millions of TV viewers of all ages on popular shows as diverse as The Late Show with David Letterman, Sesame Street, The Frugal Gourmet, The Tonight Show, and various Grammy Awards telecasts. His PBS appearances have included A Musical Toast and Mozart by the Masters, as well as numerous Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts such as The Juilliard School: Celebrating 100 Years. In 2008, he joined renowned chef Jacques Pépin on Artist’s Table to discuss the relationship between the culinary and musical arts, and lent his voice as the narrator of Visions of Israel for PBS’s acclaimed Visions series. Mr. Perlman hosted the 1994 U.S. broadcast of the Three Tenors, Encore! Live from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. During the 78th Annual Academy Awards in 2006, he performed a live medley from the five film scores nominated in the category of Best Original Score for a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions. One of Mr. Perlman’s proudest achievements is his collaboration with film composer John Williams in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List, in which he performed the violin solos. He can also be heard as the violin soloist on the soundtrack of Zhang Yimou’s film Hero (music by Tan Dun) and Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha (music by John Williams).
The year of 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of Itzhak Perlman’s U.S. debut and appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which took place on November 2, 1958. This milestone was celebrated with a return to the Ed Sullivan Theater on November 2, 2018 in a special guest appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Mr. Perlman has a long association with the Israel Philharmonic and has participated in many groundbreaking tours with this orchestra from his homeland. In 1987, he joined the IPO for history-making concerts in Warsaw and Budapest, representing the first performances by this orchestra and soloist in Eastern bloc countries. He again made history as he joined the orchestra for its first visit to the Soviet Union in 1990, and was cheered by audiences in Moscow and Leningrad who thronged to hear his recital and orchestral performances. This visit was captured on a PBS documentary entitled Perlman in Russia, which won an Emmy. In 1994, Mr. Perlman joined the Israel Philharmonic for their first visits to China and India.
Over the past two decades, Mr. Perlman has become actively involved in music education, using this opportunity to encourage gifted young string players. Alongside his wife Toby, his close involvement in the Perlman Music Program has been a particularly rewarding experience, and he has taught full-time at the Program each summer since its founding in 1993. Mr. Perlman currently holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair at the Juilliard School.
Numerous publications and institutions have paid tribute to Itzhak Perlman for the unique place he occupies in the artistic and humanitarian fabric of our times. Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, Roosevelt, Yeshiva and Hebrew universities are among the institutions that have awarded him honorary degrees. He was awarded an honorary doctorate and a centennial medal on the occasion of Juilliard’s 100th commencement ceremony in 2005. Itzhak Perlman’s presence on stage, on camera, and in personal appearances of all kinds speaks eloquently on behalf of the disabled, and his devotion to their cause is an integral part of his life.
Mr. Perlman has performed multiple times at the White House, most recently in 2012 at the invitation of President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama, for Israeli President and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Shimon Peres; and at a State Dinner in 2007, hosted by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. In 2009, he was honored to take part in the Inauguration of President Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma, clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gabriela Montero, for an audience of nearly 40 million television viewers in the United States and millions more throughout the world.
Born in Israel in 1945, Mr. Perlman completed his initial training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. An early recipient of an America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship, he came to New York and soon was propelled to national recognition with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Following his studies at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay, he won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964, which led to a burgeoning worldwide career. Since then, Itzhak Perlman has established himself as a cultural icon and household name in classical music.