Itzhak Perlman and the CSO – “1812 Overture” – Live at Ravinia – 8/20/16 and 8/21/16


Itzhak Perlman, violin
Bramwell Toveyconductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (without Itzhak Perlman)


Itzhak Perlmanconductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 (featuring Lynn Harrell on cello)
“1812” Festival Overture, Op. 49 (with live cannons)

3191_by-STRINGS-EXCLUSIVE-Lisa-Marie-MazzuccoWithout a doubt, Itzhak Perlman is likely the greatest violinist alive today. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1945, to parents that moved from Poland to British Palestine in the 1930s, Perlman began playing the violin at a very early age. He skyrocketed to fame at the age of 13, when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Not surprisingly, he continued his studies at Juilliard. At the age of four, he contracted polio. He recovered, but he has had to walk with crutches ever since. Today, he plays the violin and conducts while seated. 

Listening to Itzhak Perlman play Beethoven on Saturday night was an honor and a privilege. After the orchestra took their places (they had the A team out both nights), Perlman drove his motorized scooter out to center stage, grabbed his crutches, and without any help from anyone else, climbed the few steps to his seat and sat down – all while the audience gave him a standing ovation. We all knew this was going to be amazing before it had even started. Once Perlman sat down, the first chair violinist handed him his violin. He took it and looked it over before nodding to the first chair. Everyone in the audience laughed, because it was obvious that Perlman was making sure that no one had made a switch with the instruments. This particular violin was a cut above everything else on that stage – it sounded absolutely beautiful. I know that an organization or donor has loaned Perlman a Stradivarius to play for the duration of his life, but I highly doubt they would bring such a priceless instrument to an outdoor venue. Plus, if it had been a Stradivarius, I’m sure they would have brought it out to him under lock and key. Regardless, this instrument sounded amazing.

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The Sacred Space of Music

Some reflections on Roger Scruton on “The Sacred Space of Music“:

In The Soul of the World, Scruton observes that although Beethoven’s C-sharp Minor Quartet contains no particular story about human life, nevertheless somehow “all human life is there.” It is not merely pleasant to listen to. Rather, it addresses us with a challenge.

“There are no easy options, no fake emotions, no insincerities in this music, nor does it tolerate those things in you. In some way it is setting an example of the higher life, inviting you to live and feel in a purer way, to free yourself from everyday pretenses,” writes Scruton, “That is why it seems to speak with such authority: it is inviting you into another and higher world, a world in which life finds its fulfillment and its goal.”

Scruton notices that listening to music is in a way like dancing to it. Further, there is a difference between the dancer who understands the music, thereby translating it into expressive gestures that fit it, and “the dancer who merely dances along with it, without understanding it.”