It was about the time I first moved to New York from Los Angeles. For those of you who don’t know, Itzhak Perlman is a world-famous violinist. When I think of all the instruments in the orchestra, violins are my favorite.
So, I was at SPAC on a summer evening in the early 1990s. Myself and my friend Sunny went to see Perlman perform. I was still walking with a cane and I remember it being a very arduous walk to our seats for the concert.
I should give you some background here. When my Dad, Joe Spira, was at the end of his life, I remember him sitting in his room listening to Perlman’s playing and conducting with his hands in his weakened, sick state. He was still deriving pleasure from the music.
I had always had a love of classical music from an early age on due to my parents’ influence.
At the end of the concert, I went backstage and requested an audience with Mr. Perlman. After I told his producers my story about my Dad and Perlman’s music and its affect on him, they agreed to set it up.
Mr. Perlman also came out walking with canes and to describe him as gracious would be a gross understatement. He actually took the time to talk with me for a little bit and he seemed very moved by my story about my Dad and the affect of his music.
My friend Sunny was with me backstage and she was paying rapt attention. She also is a lover of classical music.
He just talked to me for about 15 minutes and was very kind.
According to Wikipedia, Perlman contracted polio at the age of four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with the use of crutches. Today, he generally uses crutches for mobility and plays the violin while seated. There is a popular story that, instead of getting up in the middle of a concert to replace a broken string on his violin, he finished the concert with only three strings. However, the story is an urban legend.
I’ve read that the story about Perlman finishing the concert on three strings can’t be verified and therefor most likely never happened. The description I got off the Internet called verification of this story “elusive.” Whatever the truth is, the spirit of the story is consistant with what I saw of Perlman.
I will never forget my time with this living legend.
(Incedentally, I just found out Perlman will be at SPAC Aug. 9th with the Philadelphia Orchestra and our local Knesseth Israel Synagogue is sponsoring a benefit night there. For details, call 725-0649.)