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Itzhak Perlman: Charting A Charismatic Career

Itzhak Perlman, who turns 70 on Monday, has been playing the violin for 67 years.
Don Hunstein
/
Warner Classics
Itzhak Perlman, who turns 70 on Monday, has been playing the violin for 67 years.

When Itzhak Perlman was three years old, he asked his parents for a violin because he heard one on the radio. A year later he contracted polio, leaving his legs paralyzed but his determination undaunted.

Americans first became aware of the young Tel Aviv native when he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958 at age 13. His teacher at Juilliard, Dorothy DeLay, knew that Perlman stood out. He was "on a kind of creative high that has never let up," she said.

It wasn't long before Perlman's elegant, luminous tone and affable personality propelled him to the top. He's won 16 Grammys, three Emmys and the National Medal of Arts.

Today Perlman turns 70. To celebrate, we've collected videos that trace the arc of a singular career.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.