The Life and Times of Violinist Itzhak Perlman

Alison Chernick’s documentary, “Itzhak,” shares the artist’s passion for music—and for his family.

Photo courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

We all know Itzhak Perlman as a preeminent violinist and conductor, an artist who enlivened an entire genre of music through the sheer beauty of his playing. The Perlman we meet in director Alison Chernick’s documentary, Itzhak, also lives outside of his music. He finds time for his other passions: baseball; exploring his adopted home of New York; and, in what becomes the subtle theme of the film, his family.

Itzhak Perlman and his wife, Toby, on Shelter Island. / Photo courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

Nearly every scene, in fact, features the puckish presence of Itzhak’s wife of more than 50 years, Toby Perlman, a classically trained violinist herself. In an anecdote she relates twice, both times with a touch of pride, Toby recalls the moment in 1963 when she heard Itzhak play and subsequently ran backstage to ask him to marry her.

In addition to following the loving couple as they teach and perform, Itzhak traces Perlman’s humble beginnings as a polio-stricken prodigy from Israel. The videos of his performances as a teenager on The Ed Sullivan Show and at the Meadowmount School of Music provide some of the documentary’s most thrilling footage. Decades later, his deft onscreen rendition of the Schindler’s List theme and a powerful session with pianist and longtime collaborator Martha Argerich prove he still retains the power to leave listeners awestruck.

Why You Should Go: Whether you’re a classical music fan or not, this sneak peek into the life of an iconic New Yorker will inspire wonder—of art, music, family—and maybe even a renewed dedication to your passion.

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Union Square

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