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Pinchas Zukerman, Friendship, and Vulnerability

Credit: Cheryl Mazak
Pinchas Zukerman
It was an incredible period of musicians all together in one great city...

WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked to Pinchas Zukerman and found that his career has been defined not only by the violin, the viola, and conducting, but also by one important element: his friends. 


Radio script:

Music: Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra

Susan Lewis: A recording of Mozart’s  Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra features Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, and Zubin Mehta—superstars now, but friends since their early days.

Pinchas Zukerman: When we were in London from ’67 or so, on to about ’74, ’75, it was an incredible period of musicians all together in one great city, and also in New York to a great extent. When Zubin was in New York for example... knowing he was conducting, I would just show up at the hall. It’s great to have those seven or eight years of all of us, in a way, really beginning our careers together.

SL: Born in Israel in 1948, Zukerman began music at age five, first on recorder, then clarinet. He started violin at eight, and came to New York when he was 14, where he also studied viola. He began conducting professionally in London in 1970. The key to all these activities? Vulnerability. 

PZ: When you are vulnerable, that means you are really vulnerable to making it better. You are not satisfied necessarily with what just took place or what you think might take place. When you play, and conduct as much as I do, you learn so much music, but you learn how much more there is.

SL: Pinchas Zukerman has made over a hundred recordings. The Mozart Sinfonia Concertante is part of a newly released 22-CD boxed set of his recordings made between 1974 and ’96 for Deutsche Grammophon and Philips. 

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.