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The Schmooze

Whither the Jewish Violinist?

Crossposted from Haaretz

Pinchas Zuckerman, Itzhak Perlman and Shlomo Mintz are more than just great Israeli violinists. They are also symbols — proof that the legendary Russian-Jewish tradition has continued in Israel.

This tradition — which produced virtuosos such as Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern — has brought the world great Jewish musicians on other string instruments as well. Consider Emanuel Feuermann, Gregor Piatigorsky, Mischa Maisky and Janos Starker on cello; and Efrem Zimbalist on viola. It seems so natural that this tradition would be deeply embedded in Israel, and that the indefinable Jewish spirit would continue to produce string players of extraordinary genius.

A look at music education in Israel, however, seems to indicate that the Jewish spirit is not enough. A broad and generous educational foundation is necessary to develop great musicians — especially those who play demanding instruments such as string instruments. In this respect, Israel seems to be going from bad to worse; educators here are concerned that the art of string instruments is in danger of extinction.



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