Itzhak Perlman

I fist met Itzhak during my years on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School, when he was a young soloist on the verge of a superstar career. He learned and performed violin concerti like the Sibelius, Elgar and Goldmark for the first time. His master classes were always a high point of the summer: he was invariably right on the mark as he put students like Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin, Nigel Kennedy or Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg through their paces with great substance and good humor.

Itzhak enjoyed the early summers in Aspen, where he could relax with his young family. One day I cornered him in the Chateau Roaring Fork pool, where he would swim regularly. Would he be willing to narrate the Ogden Nash verses to Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" with my string orchestra? He would be perfect, with his resonant voice and wonderful twinkle. There was a fleeting moment of terror in his face, but then he said he'd do it! As the concert date drew near, Itzhak practiced his lines relentlessly on his colleagues during chamber music rehearsals: "The Lion roars ..." in particular made the rounds of the campus. In a small way, I feel responsible for starting him off on a new facet of his career: he later recorded the "Carnival" with Zubin Mehta, narrating both in English and Hebrew and, of course, we all know of his innumerable TV appearances as master of ceremonies, concert announcer and guest.
Autographed poster of Aspen concert with Perlman narrating the Ogden Nash verses for   the Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saens. The inspired poster by Shirley Givens came about after long hours of tortuous revisions.
Poster Credit: Shirley Givens

Shared Joy in Aspen: the young members of the Aspen String Ensemble with conductor Harry Wimmer and narrator Itzhak Perlman acknowledge their well-earned applause.
Shared Joy in Aspen

Itzhak Perlman's renown as a cook was nowhere better documented than in his hilarious appearance as guest of the "Frugal Gourmet." Just around that time my Joy of Cello Playing books had been published. Not only had my books been dedicated to Itzhak because, to me, he epitomizes the Joy of Playing, but there was one important culinary reference in the text. It was the analogy of the Collé motion to Instant Mashed Potatoes! I decided to send him a set of the books, and promptly received a reply thanking me for the books and the dedication. Then he went on to say, in his inimitable dead-pan style, "I will try the mashed potato recipe as soon as possible . . . . "

And here is the original page from Master Lesson 6 of The Joy of Cello Playing:

  Page from The Joy of Cello Playing book series: the Colle cello bow stroke is compared to Instant Mashed Potatoes!
Copyright©1986 by Harry Wimmer
The complete Master Lesson 6 is available from:

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