Opening August 9, 2018
Directed by: Alison Chernick
Writing credits: Alison Chernick
Principal actors: documentary with Itzhak Perlman, Toby Perlman, Billy Joel, Martha Argerich, Amnon Weinstein, Alan Alda
Violinist Itzhak Perlman is special, which is quite obvious after three minute into the film. We watch him exit a van. He is sits in an electric wheel chair and rolls into the middle of a football stadium, where he plays an opening song to kick off the game. How many world-famous musicians do that? Perlman, born 1945, is the child of Polish parents who left Poland for Israel in the 1930s. He contracted polio at a young age which left him crippled. However, this did not hinder his love for music and he demonstrated an early talent, “You select a certain instrument because you like the sound.” It did hinder first attempts to attend music school, as some people looked first at his handicap and then at his talent. In the end he was associated with the Juilliard and Meadowmount Schools of Music, both in New York. A boost to his celebrity was an appearance in the Ed Sullivan TV Show, 1958, at age 13. From then on, there was no doubt that he was a genius.
This documentary shows Perlman playing music from all the famous composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Strauss, Mendelsohn-Bartholdy, Vivaldi, Schubert, and Mozart. He meets maker and collector of violins, Amnon Weinstein, who also has a Polish-Israeli background and lives in the U.S. They discuss Perlman’s Stradivari violin; “the violin is the replica of the soul.” Among others, he also plays with pop singer-composer Billy Joel and pianist Martha Argerich, who performed in Hamburg just a few weeks before the opening of this film. We meet his wife Toby, who has her own opinions and sometimes steals the stage, as well as some of his many family members, especially during Jewish holidays. He also teaches students of music and says, “Never miss an opportunity to teach. When you teach others, you are teaching yourself.” Perlman received the U.S Presidential Medal of Freedom in the field of music from Barack Obama in 2015. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn much about a world-famous musician and listen to beautiful music. (Becky T.)